Bid to block probe on Huduma centres

PAC has forwarded names of those frustrating their efforts to unearth misappropriation of funds at Huduma centres.

Sunday March 6 2016

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chair and Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo (left) addresses the media on February 1, 2016 as vice Chair Jackson Rop looks on. The PAC has forwarded to the Speaker and the Public Service Head the names of accounting officers and members of the Executive frustrating their efforts to unearth possible misappropriation of funds at Huduma centres. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chair Nicholas Gumbo (left) and Chair Jackson Rop in the past. Minutes of a PAC meeting reveal how then Interior Principal Secretary Dr Monica Juma took MPs through the processes that led to the government agreeing to pay the two firms the negotiated amount to avoid the pitfalls that could have befallen the government had it reneged on the deal. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By WALTER MENYA
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The National Assembly’s Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) has forwarded to the Speaker and the Public Service Head the names of accounting officers and members of the Executive frustrating their efforts to unearth possible misappropriation of funds at Huduma centres.

PAC chairman Nicholas Gumbo told the Sunday Nation that his committee had written to Speaker Justin Muturi and Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua seeking their intervention on the matter.

“Without a doubt, these are excruciatingly frustrating episodes, and we have drawn the attention of both the Speaker and the Head of the Civil Service to our apprehension,” Mr Gumbo said.

The PAC chairman narrated how some members of the Executive had been using all tricks in the book to ensure that the matter is not investigated; and that certain powerful people are protected.

“Without being specific, we have faced many challenges in getting some accounting officers to respond to audit queries.

By far the worst frustrations emanate from last-minute requests for rescheduling of appearances and/or submission of unsatisfactory or incomplete responses by accounting officers,” Mr Gumbo said.

“We have instances where accounting officers have made up to four requests to re-appear, either because the answers they have brought are incomplete or unsatisfactory, or due to absolute lack of preparedness,” he added.

FORMER CS

Huduma centres fall under the Devolution ministry, whose former Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru resigned last November under a cloud of corruption claims at the National Youth Service (NYS), which was under her ministry.

After Ms Waiguru filed an affidavit recently drawing some Jubilee bigwigs into the loss of Sh791 million at NYS, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, who was among the people mentioned, hit back saying Kenyans should await another bombshell when the PAC tables reports on Huduma centres.

“She should take responsibility on the reports of corruption at Huduma centres when the report is tabled in Parliament.

When the report by PAC on Huduma centres is out, Ann Waiguru will be mentioning many names including that of Jesus,” Mr Duale said as Jubilee’s self-cannibalisation hit a new level.

Ms Waiguru has protested her innocence; and has not been charged with, nor convicted of, any offence.

Mr Duale claimed that suspect Josephine Kabura’s affidavit had illustrated Ms Waiguru’s role in the loss of the NYS millions, and had given chronological evidence involving the former CS’s relatives, and how funds were carried in briefcases to the basements of city buildings.

But it is the report on Huduma centres, Mr Gumbo says, that the Executive is doing everything to frustrate.

TABLE REPORT

The PAC chairman, however, assured the public that the committee would table the report, irrespective of what is thrown at them.

“Despite the challenges, we are now almost done and the draft report is almost ready.

We look forward to tabling it within the month of March,” he said, adding that it was incorrect to say there’s a ready PAC report on Huduma centres.

“That’s not to say there may not have been serious financial improprieties in the procurement and award of the Huduma centres project.

It is simply premature to be conclusive as of now.

What we have done as PAC is to request the Auditor General (Mr Edward Ouko) to conduct a thorough value-for-money special audit on IFMIS/NYS/Devolution,” said Mr Gumbo.

He said the PAC was optimistic that, at the end of the exercise, Mr Ouko “shall finger out those responsible for any misuse of public funds, in very specific terms, so that they can be punished.”

The PAC report on misappropriation of funds and irregular award of tenders at Huduma centres is eagerly awaited by the URP wing of the ruling coalition.

Wounded by Ms Waiguru’s affidavit that mentioned close allies of Deputy President William Ruto - including Mr Duale, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen and Mr Farouk Kibet, who is Mr Ruto’s personal aide - the URP wants to expedite the release of the report on Huduma centres.

Insiders say many TNA players are likely to be culpable.

The plan is to use the report to hit back at TNA, which URP accuses privately of portraying them as the most corrupt.

Also, URP feels that TNA insiders may have been aware of Ms Waiguru’s dossier in advance, besides piling the pressure on Mr Duale and Mr Murkomen to resign and embarrass Mr Ruto.

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