Detectives from the anti-corruption agency on Tuesday raided the homes of former officials of the Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) in connection with ongoing investigations into financial improprieties in the construction of the Sh4.2 billion LBDA mall in Kisumu.
Those under investigation were also questioned by the detectives in Kisumu and Nairobi.
In Kisumu, the detectives raided the homes of county assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo in Milimani and Mamboleo.
His home in Nairobi was also searched at 6am before he was questioned at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Kisumu regional offices.
Mr Oloo served as the LBDA chairman before his election as Speaker.
The homes of former LBDA Managing Director Peter Abok in Muhoroni and Bobasi MP Innocent Obiri, who served in the procurement department, were also raided.
The detectives spent several hours at Mr Obiri’s home in Nyamebondo village in Kisii County, as they waited for him to travel from Nairobi.
“His house was locked and it would have been unlawful for us to force our way in. We ordered him to come and open it so that we can carry out our investigations,” said a detective.
The detectives also searched the Nairobi homes of different owners of the Erdemann construction company, which built the mall, and the LBDA offices in Kisumu.
The homes of several other former procurement officials were also searched.
The detectives questioned most of the officials in relation to the construction of the complex.
EACC spokesperson Yasin Amaro told the Nation that the commission was seeking files and documents relating to the investigation.
He revealed that the raids were conducted simultaneously in the morning but would not disclose the names of those affected.
Mr Oloo, who was released after being questioned for more than four hours, said the detectives carted away several documents.
He said he was confident that he will be vindicated. “I hope that the ongoing investigations are not being done to settle any scores. Let it be devoid of malice and ill will,” he said shortly after being released.
He said the EACC officers had a court order authorising them to search his two homes in Kisumu and another in Nairobi.
Mr Oloo called on the investigating agencies to clear the matter once and for all.
“Unnecessary delays in resolving the case is raising suspicion and allowing documents to be tampered with,” he said, adding that he had been summoned to EACC for the third time.
Mr Oloo, who served as the chair of LBDA in 2014-2015 for a year and a half, maintained that no money was paid out when he was at the helm of the regional authority.
“The anti-graft agency can establish who authorised the payments and who paid the billions if there were illegalities and when the matter was under investigation,” he told reporters at the Nyanza EACC regional office.
But he defended the adjustment of the cost of the mall from Sh2.5 billion to Sh3.8 billion.
“This raised concerns that we may have varied the contract beyond the 25 per cent permitted by law. But I have always maintained that there were additions like the three-star hotel, a tyre centre and showrooms, which were not in the first budget,” Mr Oloo said.
He pointed out that the additional Sh630 million only amounted to 19 per cent and not 46 per cent, if worked out based on Sh4.2 billion.
“There is a difference between variation and additions. There were additions that did not form part of the original contract of Sh2.5 billion,” he said.
He said he would cooperate with investigating agencies to reveal the truth over the project, which cost taxpayers millions of shillings.
Several people, including a Cabinet minister and former LBDA directors, have recorded statements.
VALUE FOR MONEY
In November last year, nine former and current board members were interrogated following claims that the project cost might have been inflated. Under procurement laws, variations should not exceed 15 per cent.
Some of the current and former LBDA directors already questioned are Mr Earlie Ngani, Ms Katherine Muoki and Mr Jack Otana.
Others are Mr Patrick Ouya, Mr Steve Mwanga, Mr Nelson Kifworo, Mr William Omondi, Mr William Murunga Jaluo and Mr Abraham Koech.
The EACC is seeking to establish whether there was value for money in all the contractual obligations in the construction of the mall and whether public funds were efficiently used.