Detectives arrest Ferdinand Waititu in graft probe

Thursday May 23 2019

ERIC WAINAINA
By ERIC WAINAINA
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HARRY MISIKO
By HARRY MISIKO
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Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu has been arrested in Nairobi as the anti-corruption watchdog investigates corruption in his government.

Detectives from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) took away the outspoken county boss after more than six hours of interrogation and search at his Runda home.

NUMBER PLATES

The crime busters raided the residence and the governor's offices a few minutes after 5am and started a search for files and documents.

The tens of officers camped at the home until noon when they arrested the county boss, who was restrained from leaving for work, and took him to Integrity Centre, the operations nerve centre of the EACC.

The detectives carted away files and records relating to contracts issued by Mr Waititu’s administration.

They also confiscated and carried away some number plates and documents which were found in the boot of his Toyota Prado.

Neither Mr Waititu nor EACC detectives addressed a battery of journalists who camped outside the besieged home as the raid went on.

The outspoken governor, popularly known as Baba Yao, is under the EACC spotlight over alleged corruption in a number of his county programmes, including Kaa Sober, which was aimed at rehabilitating alcoholics.

In a statement, EACC said it was investigating claims of irregular award of tenders worth Sh588 million to companies associated with Mr Waititu and members of his immediate family.

"Preliminary investigations show that contractors paid monies to senior county officials, their companies or relatives through proxies," the statement reads in part.

The governor is also on the spot over alleged fraudulent acquisition of public funds, conflict of interest and money laundering.

"During the searches, valuable evidence relevant to the investigations was recovered," the EACC said.

The arrest comes hours after the Kiambu County Assembly rushed and passed a supplementary budget in which it approved an expenditure of Sh722 million under the controversial programme.

The passing of the budget was widely seen as a scheme to regularise the controversial expenditure in which millions of shillings are suspected to have been stolen.

Sources told the Nation that 10 other officials of the county government, Mr Waititu's family members and directors of private companies are targeted in the ongoing investigations.

This week, some of the county officials appeared before the EACC over the matter.

WA IRIA

The Kiambu governor, who has been in the news recently over questionable expenditure at the county in the last financial year, is facing allegations of procurement irregularities and unexplained expenditures.

Mr Waititu has also been questioned over his recent property acquisitions, including that of a building located within Nairobi’s central business district.

But in videos posted online by his supporters, Mr Waititu claims the investigations are politically influenced.

He says he has worked hard to acquire his property.

And as some officers ransacked Mr Waititu’s Runda home, a separate team was camping at another residence at Bellcrest Gardens on Githunguri Road in Kileleshwa.

It is suspected that the posh home belongs to one of the officers targeted in the investigations that are likely to result in arrests.

The raid comes as EACC intensifies the fight against corruption in the devolved units.

On Wednesday, detectives grilled Murang'a Governor Mwangi wa Iria at the EACC office in Nyeri over the controversial purchase of a 10-acre piece of land in Kabati at an alleged inflated price of Sh390 million.

The interrogation lasted three hours with Mr Wa Iria leaving shortly after 7.30pm.