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Isiolo officials to be arrested over Sh160m pending bills

Wednesday February 26 2020

Isiolo County Secretary Ahmed Galgalo

Isiolo County Secretary Ahmed Galgalo at past event in Isiolo town. On February 26, 2020, a court ordered his arrest, alongside Finance executive Abdinassir Hajj Daud and Chief Officer Salad Adano over non-payment of Sh160 million in pending bills. PHOTO | WAWERU WAIRIMU | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

WAWERU WAIRIMU
By WAWERU WAIRIMU
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A court in Isiolo has issued a warrant for the arrest of County Secretary Ahmed Galgalo and two senior finance officers for failure to pay over Sh160 million in pending bills.

Dr Galgalo, Finance Executive Abdinassir Hajj Daud and Chief Officer Salad Adano have defied instructions to pay five contractors despite striking a deal with a local court in August 2019.

According to the consent, the county was to pay Sh80 million on or before December 15 last year and the balance of Sh83 million by September 15, 2020.

Six months later, however, Isiolo is yet to commit funds yet it promised payments in letters to the contractors hired by the administration before Mohamed Kuti's.

The county's failure to clear the bill has seen the accrued interest shoot to millions of shillings, with the contractors demanding at least Sh4 million more.

THE DEBT

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The money owed is for services, including supply of foodstuffs (maize, beans, sugar, cooking oil and rice), hiring of transport and security services for administrative functions and provision of construction services.

The consent notes an amount of Sh163 million but the total owed to the five companies so far, including interest, is at least Sh178.1 million.

They are Al Majid Shop (Sh61 million), Rayan Provision Store (Sh35 million), Noyasu Construction Limited (Sh9.1 million), Dabasiti Contractors and Suppliers (Sh32 million) and Choke Construction and Suppliers Limited (Sh41 million).

Isiolo Chief Magistrate Samuel Mungai on Wednesday ordered the arrest and committal to civil jail of the three officials until the debt is paid.

ISIOLO'S ARGUMENTS

In a ruling on October 30, 2018, the court dismissed the county’s defence in 10 cases filed by contractors in 2017, saying they were "a mere sham" as it claimed it did not procure the contractors' services.

In a court submission on February 12, the county secretary said it was completely impossible for Isiolo to commit itself to abiding by the consent.

Dr Galgalo claimed the deal was reached through coercion and consistent threats of warrants of arrest by the applicants.

“Due to constant harassment, the chief officer hurriedly signed a consent committing to pay the disputed bills,” the submission states.

Through Zainab Jirma & Company Advocates, Dr Galgalo further said the county doubted the authenticity of the bills.

“The county is desirous of setting aside the consent as it seeks to review the judgment, which was not properly executed on our behalf,” he said.

COUNTY FLAGGED

Isiolo is among counties flagged by the National Treasury over failure to pay eligible pending bills, with Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani warning that those defying the directive will not receive resources.

Last November, Dr Galgalo told the Nation that the devolved unit had come up with a payment plan to ensure all payments were made.

He said the county had set aside Sh150 million in the current budget and that more would be allocated in subsequent years to protect key flagship projects including construction of a stadium, a modern market and county headquarters.

He said the delay was occasioned by differences in figures from the auditor-general's office and a county taskforce, reports indicating debts of Sh1.1 billion and Sh586 million respectively.

The county was to reconcile the figures before starting to make payments.