, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 28 – The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is Tuesday set to charge 54 suspects over irregular payments amounting to Sh468 million in the unfolding National Youth Service (NYS) scam.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji announced on Monday that the 54 include Public Service and Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lillian Omollo, and NYS Director-General Richard Ndubai, both of who have since stepped aside.
Omollo surrendered to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations Monday morning as detectives embarked on a hot pursuit of suspects mentioned in the NYS scandal netting at least 20.
According to Haji, the concluded case of investigations involves 40 civil servants and 14 proprietors/directors, as well as 10 business entities.
“The public servants will be charged with several offences including conspiracy to commit an offence of corruption, wilful failure to comply with applicable procedure and guidelines relating to management of public funds, breach of trust, wilful neglect to perform official duty, abuse of office, fraudulent acquisition of public property, and making payment from public revenues for goods not supplied,” he announced.
The chief prosecutor said pending bills amounting to Sh8 billion were being investigated even as it emerged that “no procurement was undertaken before monies were paid out.”
In phase two of the probe, Haji said the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) will focus on companies and entities – including commercial banks – that benefitted from the fraudulent payments or were complicit to offences committed.
Already, Haji said, prosecutors were working on recovering the proceeds of crime and establishing the tax status of individual implicated in the NYS fraud.
He also announced that bank accounts of persons and businesses which benefited from the payment of the Sh468 had been frozen.
Other than Omollo and Ndubai, other public officials facing prosecution are former NYS Director-General (Acting) Sammy Michuki, Senior Deputy Director Nicholas Ahere and Acting Director of Finance Wellington Lubira.
Company directors and proprietors facing prosecutions are Anne Ngirita, Phyllis Njeri, Catherine Mwai, Antony Wamiti, James Thuita, Yvonne Ngugi, Jeremiah Ngirita, Lucy Ngirita, Andrine Nyambura, Catherine Kamuyu, Serah Muguru, Samwel Kanai, and James Katululu.
Thuita unsuccessfully petitioned the High Court to grant him an anticipatory bail on Friday last week.
The 10 companies involved are Annwaw Investment, Njewanga Investments, Arkroad Holdings Limited, Kunjiwa Enterprises, Ameri Trade Limited, Ngwiwaco Enterprises, Jerrycathy Enterprises, Fisrtling Supplies Limited, Kalabash Food Supplies Limited, and Ersatz Enterprises.
According to the DPP, Tuesday’s arraignments are as a result of the perusal of 10 files handed by the DCI on Sunday.
The DPP had referred the files back to the DCI on May 8 when they were first forwarded to the prosecution agency.
PS Omollo is among 20 suspects that will spend the night in police custody having surrendered to the DCI on Monday.
While appearing before the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee on Friday last week, Omollo refuted claims of loss of funds at the NYS saying the accounts of the youth agency had been cleared by the Auditor-General in the 2016-17 report.
“I do not think it is possible for that kind of money to be lost from an institution and the Auditor General for whom (I) as an accounting officer I live in fear of then does not find it, for me it is mind-boggling. I am not sure how it is that it never came to my attention that kind of money was lost,” she stated.
Omollo said the misappropriation of such a colossal amount of money would have rendered the NYS dysfunctional adding that NYS’s expenditure in 2016-17 was Sh22 billion.
She defended her tenure at the State Department of Public Service and Youth Affairs saying she had, in fact, stopped the payment of 1,600 claims due to irregularities that included lack of supporting documents since taking over in 2016.
Omollo pointed out that NYS had significantly reduced operational costs after the agency started sewing uniforms for its ranks, saying the move was saving the youth agency Sh600 million annually.
Omollo also told parliamentarians that NYS had stopped procurement of powder milk from private firms, instead single-sourcing the product from government-owned New Kenya Co-operative Creameries (New-KCC), a move that she said ruffled feathers of some suppliers who had been making huge amounts of money from the supply of the product.