Ngilu grilled by KACC over alleged graft

December 17, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – Water and Irrigation Minister Charity Ngilu was on Friday questioned by the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission in connection with alleged graft in parastatals under her ministry.

The minister arrived shortly after 9am and left an hour later without talking to journalists, who had camped at KACC’s Integrity Centre headquarters.

KACC Director-General PLO Lumumba later said Ngilu was responding to summons by the Commission to shed light on issues touching on Parastatals in the Ministry of Water particularly Tanathi Water Services Board and National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation.

He would not give details of the grilling but explained that the Commission would make appropriate recommendations once they were done with investigations.

"Madam Ngilu was asked to come here today to respond to allegations made about her and a number of officials regarding activities that may be considered economic crimes," the director said.

The minister met detectives who are investigating the corruption allegations.

A statement from the commission said investigators were specifically interested in hearing about "conflict of interest in award of tenders and contracts to companies associated with her."

In addition they sought insight into irregular procurement and tendering procedures in the construction of dams and sinking boreholes.

Public Works Assistant Minister Mwangi Kiunjuri sparked off the claims of a corruption scandal in the ministry after he was moved from the docket in October following a cabinet mini-reshuffle.

Last month, Mr Kiunjuri lodged an official complaint with the anti-graft body where he met detectives and presented his evidence.

According to the assistant minister the award of contracts at the ministry was not transparent and could have led to huge losses of public money. Mr Kiunjuri also claimed there was nepotism in the award of tenders.

The assistant minister, who blames Ngilu for his exit from the ministry, alleged that up to eight companies and a non-governmental organisation that had close links with the minister had done business with the ministry.

Ms Ngilu has in a place insisted that Kiunjuri case is a case of crying over sour grapes. She adds that the current allegations are brought by the fact that she refused to clear the payment of undocumented claims stretching to millions of shillings which had been presented by a contractor in July

Prof Lumumba said: "She has seen our investigators and we believe she will continue to work with us. We shall recall her if it’s necessary or when there are issues to be clarified."

The minister is accused of misusing public funds after the ministry sunk 126 of the 408 boreholes drilled across the country in her home region of Ukambani.


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