, NAIROBI, Kenya June 1 – Police have launched a manhunt for 18 suspects facing fraud charges in the Sh468 million scandal at the National Youth Service (NYS), after 12 surrendered on Thursday.
George Kinoti, who heads the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) said twelve of thirty suspects that missed a court appearance on Tuesday had complied with a Magistrate’s order to surrender by 2pm Thursday.
Kinoti told Capital FM News that the twelve who surrendered will be processed ahead of a court appearance on Monday when they will be charged with corruption-related offences.
“They must all face justice, no one will escape that,” Kinoti said Friday.
During the Tuesday appearance, twenty—four suspects including Public Service and Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lillian Omollo and NYS Director General Richard Ndubai were charged with various corruption-related offences as well as abuse of office.
The two were accused of unlawfully approving payments amounting to Sh 468 million to ten companies for goods and services not delivered to the youth agency.
Chief Magistrate Douglas Ogoti is on Tuesdayt et to rule on bail applications for the twenty-four who were charged and remanded.
Men are remanded at the Industrial Area Remand Prison while women are at the Lang’ata Prison where the Youth and Gender fell ill on Wednesday before she was rushed to the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) where she is admitted.
All the accused persons denied charges leveled against them and have hired lawyers to help them battle the charges once the hearing starts.
During the May 29 court proceedings, Magistrate Ogoti quite literally burnt the midnight oil adjourning the court some minutes to 2 am on Wednesday.
He had entertained applications for bail by the twenty-four suspects who were present in court before making a ruling on whether or not, warrants of arrests should be issued against thirty suspects who failed to show up in court or surrender to the DCI.
Lawyers from the DPP’s office and those representing suspects not before the court had locked horns for hours over the request for warrants of arrests before the magistrate made a ruling compelling the missing suspects to surrender to DCI by 2pm on Thursday.
Defense lawyers led by Cliff Ombeta had challenged the proposition to have the remaining suspects surrender to DCI, instead asking the court to allow them produce the suspects in court at a date picked by the magistrate.
During the court session, PS Omollo and NYS boss Ndubai – both of whom stepped aside to pave way for investigations – pleaded not guilty to conspiring to commit corruption at the youth agency.
The two also denied abuse of office charges leveled against them by the prosecution over their alleged role in the payment of Sh468 million to 10 companies, which investigators said supplied neither goods nor services to the NYS.
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.
Similar charges were denied by former Acting NYS Director-General Sammy Michuki as well as Senior Deputy Director Nicholas Ahere and Acting Director of Finance Wellington Lubira, who are among forty public servants accused of colluding to defraud the youth department.
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.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji is expected to charge more individuals in relation to the unfolding scandal at the in which the expenditure of Sh 8 billion is being investigated.
Speaking to the media on May 28 the chief prosecutor Noordin Haji said pending bills amounting to Sh8 billion were being investigated even as it emerged that “no procurement was undertaken before monies were paid out.”
Among those who could be charged are bank managers under whose watch suspicious transactions occurred unreported.
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) is aiding in the ongoing investigations that could also see commercial banks involved have fines imposed on them.