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Waiguru: I queried Sh791m used to make 3.5km road

Thursday November 3 2016

JOHN NGIRACHU
By JOHN NGIRACHU
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Former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru is appearing before the National Assembly's Public Accounts Committee that is investigating the Sh791 million scandal at the National Youth Service

Ms Waiguru began her testimony by asking members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for assurances that it was not pursuing her and was only interested in the truth.

Watching live broadcasts of the committee's proceedings, she said, she had noticed that some members of the committee asked witnesses leading questions.

She cited questions put to Ben Gethi and Josephine Kabura when they appeared before the committee.

"I seek your assurance before we proceed that this committee is guided by none other than its mandate to seek the truth under the law," she said.

SIZE OF DELEGATIONS

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She said that even after Mr Gethi said on a TV programme hosted by Jeff Koinange that he did not know her, he was pushed to state how they were linked.

Ms Waiguru told the PAC that she noticed that costs for the 3.5 kilometre road in Kibera, whose payments for materials were used to steal Sh791 million by adding zeroes to documents, were not possible.

It was impossible for the manually changed figures on documents to be entered and validated "unless you were all colluding", she told MPs.

"It was a network of individuals," she said.

The former CS said she then wrote to Principal Secretary Peter Mangiti asking him about the inflated payments.

DCI GRAPHIC

Mr Mangiti on Wednesday accused Ms Waiguru of masterminding the scandal.

Ms Waiguru suggested that former NYS director Nelson Githinji and former Finance Director Samuel Wachenje were part of a network used to siphon the millions.

She presented a graphic reported to have been developed by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations showing the frequency of calls between various individuals named in the scandal, herself exempted.

In one case, Ben Gethi, one of the beneficiaries of the loot, was shown to have spoken with Farouk Kibet, a personal assistant to Deputy President William Ruto, 150 times.

RUTO'S PA

Records submitted to the committee showed that Mr Kibet received Sh1 million from Mr Gethi.

But documents submitted by Ms Waiguru claiming that former NYS director Nelson Githinji authorised the payments were declared inadmissible after MPs discovered inconsistencies.                       

The former CS had attempted to use her tabulation of how the payment of the Sh791 million was made to show that Dr Githinji was responsible for approving fraudulent payments.

However, he was stopped in her tracks after PAC chairman Nicolas Gumbo pointed out that some of the approvals were made when Adan Harakhe had already replaced Dr Githinji as NYS's accounting officer.                       

She admitted that she made the request for the additional Sh3.5 billion in the 2014/15 financial year, adding that it was to fund the expanded NYS.         

TARGET OF SCAM              

That Sh3.5 billion was the target of the scandal, according to the report of Auditor-General Robert Ouko.

Mr Mangiti, the former PS, on Wednesday told the House committee that neither him as accounting officer nor the NYS requested for the money.                        

Ms Waiguru found herself in a bind when asked about the origination of the Sh3.5 billion.

She finally found a document among her files that was not in the submission given to MPs.

The former minister also told MPs that the replacement of Jaspher Rugut by Mr Githinji was in no way controversial and was in line with government guidelines.

SHE ERRED                       

She concluded her testimony by saying she erred by concentrating too much on her job and failed to realise that some civil servants were bent on fraud, saying the NYS was a noble idea.

She lamented the politicisation of the matter and ended her submission with a statement made by Martin Luther King Jr: The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.             

Ms Waiguru arrived early for the meeting accompanied by Pauline Kamau, her secretary, and a bodyguard.

The size of her delegations at previous meetings was large.

Clad in a blue and white dress and formal black shoes, she also carried a large black briefcase.

The meeting took some time to start, with PAC chairman Gumbo taking time to get everybody in the room to introduce themselves and then read two paragraphs from a book to set the tone.

MIND-BOGGLING

Members, including Timothy Bosire (Kitutu Masaba), Fathia Mahbub (Mandera woman rep) and Kanini Kega (Kieni), took turns to grill Ms Waiguru and sometimes the interrogation escalated into fire-spitting.

Drama also featured in charged sitting at County Hall.

At some point, Tongaren MP Eseli Simiyu claimed that the MPs who were sitting behind him — Rachel Shebesh (Nairobi woman rep), Richard Tongi (Nyaribari Chache) and Maison Leshoomo (Samburu woman rep) — were trying to intimidate the MPs asking Ms Waiguru questions.

Among MPs who are not members of the PAC but are also attending the hearing are Stephen Kariuki (Mathare), Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), Lati Lelelit (Samburu West), Abdikadir Ore (Wajir West), Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Simba Arati (Dagoretti North) and Shakeel Shabir (Kisumu East).