, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 22- Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge are among more than 10 top government officials who will spend the night in custody following their arrests on Monday over the multi-billion shillings Kimwarer and Arror dams scandal.
They were all arrested following approval by the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji for roles in awarding contracts to Italian firm CMC di Ravenna, to construct the two dams.
Even though lawyers were making frantic efforts to have them freed on bond, detectives at the DCI headquarters said, the officials will spend the night in custody until Tuesday to face charges.
“They are not likely to come out,” one detective said, “expect them in court tomorrow (Tuesday).
“After analyzing the evidence gathered by the Director of Criminal Investigations, I am satisfied that economic crimes were committed and I have therefore approved their arrests and prosecutions,” Haji told a news conference in Nairobi on Monday.
Detectives immediately heightened the search for all the suspects accused of roles in the Sh63 billion scandal, with others like Rotich, Thugge and the Chief Executive Officer for the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) presenting themselves to the DCI headquarters.
Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) Managing Director David Kimosop and several other tender committee members were nabbed in Eldoret and later driven to the DCI offices.
Also wanted over the scandal is Kennedy Nyakundi Nyachiro, Chief Economist at the Treasury who also heads Europe II Division alongside 23 other officials who include Italians from the CMC di Ravena—the firm that was contracted to put up Kimwarer and Arror dams in Elgeyo Marakwet on a government-to-government agreement.
The list include Jackson Njau Kinyanjui (Director Resource Mobilization Department National Treasury), Titus Murithii (Inspector General of State Corporations), Paolo Porcelli (Director CMC di Ravenna) CMC di Ravenna – Itinera JV Italy, William Kipkemboi Maina (Head of Supply Chain Management), Paul Kipkoech Serem (Manager Engineering Services), Francis Chepkonga Kipkoech (Tender Committee).
Haji has also ordered the arrests of Samuel Kimutai Koskei (Tender Committee), David Juma Onyango (Tender Committee), Patrick Kiptoo (Tender Committee), Elizabeth Kebenei (Tender Committee), Esther Jepchirchir Kiror (Tender Committee), Moses Kipchumba (Ad hoc Technical and Financial Evaluation Committee Team 2) and Eng. Nelson Korir (Ad hoc Technical and Financial Evaluation Committee Team 2).
Others are Eng. Isaac M. Kiiru (Ad hoc Technical and Financial Evaluation Committee Team 2), Eng. Patrick Kipsang (Ad hoc Technical and Financial Evaluation Committee Team 2), Fredrick Towett (Ad hoc Technical and Financial Evaluation Committee Team 2), Jotham Rutto (Ad hoc Technical and Financial Evaluation Committee Team 2), Charity Muui (Ad hoc Technical and Financial Evaluation Committee Team 2), Geoffrey Mwangi Wahungu (CEO, National Environment Management Authority), David Walunya Ongare (National Environment Management Authority) and Boniface Mamboleo Lengisho (NEMA).
“The investigations established that government officials flouted all procurement rules and abused their oath of office to ensure the scheme went through,” Haji said.
While detailing their crimes, Haji said the officials had breached public debt regulations.
“If this project was carried in the strict adherence to the law and existing policies in place to safeguard public interest, it should not have cost Sh63 billion. The evidence establishes malpractices that impacted on our national debt,” Haji said.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen dismissed the arrests as a mere public relation exercise saying the 28 officials were victims of what he described as ‘high-stake succession politics’.
The Senator alleged that that DPP Haji was under immense pressure while making what he said sounded like a political statement.
“Reading the statement of the Director of Public Prosecutions, gives a clear picture of a man who was under immense pressure to approve charges against these people,” he said.
The Government has since made a Sh19 billion advancement payment, though four years later, no construction has commenced.
A further Sh643 million was released by the National Treasury as a counterpart funds which was meant for the resettlements of the persons that would be affected by the same projects for the compensation of land acquired.
The DPP said “there is no evidence that land has been acquired four years down the line. Furthermore, Kenya Forest Service in a bid to protect our environment strongly opposed any excision of forest land pointing to significant adverse impact on the forest ecosystem.”