NAIROBI, Kenya, July 23—Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich was set to face charges in court Tuesday in a Sh63 billion corruption investigation, signalling the government’s strongest indication on the resolve to fight graft.
Rotich will be charged alongside his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge and eight other government officials arrested Monday when the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji approved charges against them for roles in awarding two contracts to Italian firm CMC di Ravenna, to construct the two dams—Kimwarer and Arror—all in Elgeyo Marakwet where work is yet to commence even after huge pay-outs.
“They are already in court to face charges,” George Kinoti, the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) told Capital FM News..
“We have ten suspects and we will be applying for local and international warrants for others yet to be arrested,” he said.
The suspects spent the night in various police stations in Nairobi and were driven to Milimani on Tuesday morning.
Rotich and Thugge were arrested alongside the Chief Executive Officer of the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) Geoffrey Wakhungu and other officials from the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA)—the parastatal that implemented the project.
“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.
Rotich’s arrests has unsettled the larger Rift Valley–the backyard of Deputy President William Ruto who, at the height of the investigations in March, dismissed the probe and accused DCI Kinoti of exaggerating figures of the missing billions.
According to Ruto, no money was lost in the probe.
The list of wanted suspects 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.
But Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen has dismissed the arrests as a mere public relations 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.
Kinoti and the DPP however, insists that they have a strong case against all the suspects in their radar.