Trouble is brewing in Elgeyo-Marakwet County following revelations that the Alex Tolgos administration awarded a multimillion-shilling fuel tender to a company associated with him and his wife.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) last week summoned the governor to Integrity Centre in Nairobi to answer questions relating to the awarding of the Sh200 million tender to a company identified as Kobcom Petroleum Ltd.
In the summons, the commission indicated that it has in its possession information linking the governor to the company.
The investigations revolve around procurement irregularities in the devolved unit during the 2014/2015, 2015/2016, 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 financial years.
“We have information alleging you are a director of Kobcom Petroleum Limited, which supplied petroleum products to the county government of Elgeyo-Marakwet during the same period,” the commission noted in the letter signed by EACC Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak and dated November 4 this year.
Mr Tolgos, who honoured the summons, denied the allegations that he is linked to the company, claiming he relinquished his role in it before he was elected governor in 2013.
In his defence, Mr Tolgos said the county only engaged the firm in a tender worth Sh742,760 for the supply of fuel to county ambulances and purchasing LPG gas for the region’s health facilities between 2013 and 2016.
“This is a station I used to run before I became a governor and at the moment I have relinquished it to another dealer,” Mr Tolgos said on Thursday.
A search at the registrar of companies, however, shows that Mr Tolgos’s wife Joyce co-owns the company alongside one Judy Jepchumba Chepkangor.
According to the registrar, Ms Joyce and Ms Chepkangor each own a fifty per cent stake in the company that was registered in September 2011.
The documents reveal that the governor’s wife is registered as a director in the company using her maiden name Joyce Jeruto Misoi.
The search further shows the firm’s lawyers as Katwa and Kemboy Advocates but does not list its bankers and auditors.
It further lists a Mr Joseph Agola as the company secretary.
So far, the governor and county procurement officials have been questioned by EACC detectives.
Mr Mbarak had in the letter to the governor directed him to carry all original documents that would be relevant to the investigations into allegations of bribery, conflict of interest and abuse of office in the awarding of the fuel tenders.
Also summoned were procurement officials from the county administration.
The Public Officer Ethics Act stipulates that a public officer shall not award a contract or influence the awarding of a contract to himself, his spouse or relative, a business corporation or other body in which the officer has an interest.
Before his election as governor of Elgeyo-Marakwet in 2013, Mr Tolgos, an engineer by profession, had served at the firm in question as a senior manager.
After he was questioned, the governor promised to cooperate with the commission in the investigation.
“We have delivered all the information and documents that the EACC had asked for. Our procurement officers have also recorded statements,” Mr Tolgos said.
Mr Tolgos joins a growing list of governors facing corruption-related cases or investigations. They include Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, who is alleged to have irregularly awarded his relatives and close associates tenders amounting to over Sh588 million.