The noose is tightening around Mike Sonko’s neck as initial investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) show that the Nairobi governor received millions of shillings in a complex web of corruption where companies awarded tenders by the county sent money indirectly into his bank accounts.
The flamboyant governor lost the first round of his fight with EACC on Thursday after a suit he had filed against the agency was thrown out by the courts despite the governor’s usual antics in the lead-up to the case.
Justice James Makau declined to issue orders stopping EACC’s investigation of Mr Sonko and instead transferred them to the Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court.
“He has come to the constitutional court claiming his rights have been violated but I find that the issues he has raised touch on corruption, which is a preserve of the anti-corruption court,” ruled Justice Makau.
“I therefore decline to issue any orders and direct the file be transferred to the Anti-Corruption Division,” the judge ordered.
As Mr Sonko leaks his wounds, the details of an explosive affidavit filed by EACC to win Thursday’s case, which the Saturday Nation has obtained, paint a picture of a complex web of corruption at City Hall, with the governor at the centre.
Afraid of being detected if investigations were ever launched, four companies that coincidentally are all owned by Mr Sonko’s friends cumulatively diverted some Sh39 million to their sister companies before the money ended up in the governor’s accounts.
In a total breach of procurement rules, EACC says, Nairobi County in some instances awarded direct tenders to companies belonging to the governor’s friends, negotiated with bidders on the prices they should place on their tenders and made payments to requisitions made by forged documents.
The money trail between the companies under investigation and Mr Sonko began way before he became governor but was entrenched after he was sworn in as procurement rules were broken in some instances to accommodate the specific firms into Nairobi’s coffers.
During the period under investigation Hardi Enterprises received over Sh357 million, Amaco Insurance, linked to Deputy President William Ruto, received Sh158 million, Yiro Enterprises Ltd Sh103 million and Web Tribe Sh102 million.
Yiro and Hardi are among the 14 companies that were this year paid a whooping Sh524 million to collect garbage in the city that still continues to be chocked in filth. Amaco, since 2013, had a running contract to insure county government vehicles while Web Tribe, which operates as JamboPay, was until May this year providing e-payment revenue collection for the county.
During the period under investigation, Amaco sent Sh23.3 million to Arbab Auto Ltd, which in turn sent Mr Sonko Sh17 million. Yiro Enterprises Ltd and Web Tribe sent Sh14.1 million and Sh10 million respectively to ROG Securities Ltd. Out of this cumulated amounts, ROG sent Sh10.4 million to Mr Sonko.
Arbab and ROG Security Ltd are both owned by Anthony Otieno Ombok, alias Jamal, a Sonko ally who in 2018 was arrested in connection with assaulting Nairobi Central Business District Association (NCBDA) chair Timothy Muriuki in the full glare of cameras during a press conference.
PIECE OF LAND
“From analysis of Mike Mbuvi Sonko’s account numbers 1580261402765, 1380262333608, 0350299195757 and 0020264389109 held at Equity Bank, Mike Mbuvi Sonko received monies totaling to Sh27.4 million,” said the affidavit on cash transfers from Amaco, Yiro and Web Tribe signed by Simon Cherpka, a forensic investigator at EACC.
“Prior to these payments, all the three companies received monies from the Nairobi City County government as payments for contracts,” says Mr Cherpka.
Arbab is contracted by Amaco to repair vehicles brought to it by the county while ROG Security is said to have been contracted by Web Tribe at some point to provide security.
In his defence to EACC last month, governor Sonko told EACC investigators that the money Mr Ombok wired to him was a part-payment for a piece of land in Mavoko that he sold to him in early 2017 while he was still the senator of Nairobi. He claimed he had bought the land from former Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopha Mailu.
EACC has said in a court affidavit that it needs more time to investigate how Sh27 million was collectively moved from Amaco, Yiro and Web Tribe to the governor’s accounts.
“It is only fair and just that the commission is allowed to complete its investigations without interference and for the interest of the public,” asks detective Cherpka.
This is, however, just the tip of the iceberg of what EACC has on the governor, who has engaged in a tirade against the commission in recent weeks, accusing it of going on a fishing expedition against him.
The juice of the EACC investigation of the governor centres on how Hardi Enterprises Ltd bagged a garbage-collection contract and a second one for the hiring of heavy equipment and vehicles.
Hardi is owned by Anthony Mwaura Ng’ang’a and Rose Njeri Ng’ang’a. EACC says it has established that Mr Ng’ang’a is a close business associate of Mr Sonko who had even contributed to his campaign in 2017.
“The analysis of Mr Mike Mbuvi Sonko’s bank statements held at KCB bank revealed that prior to the award of the contract for solid waste management to Hardi Enterprises Limited, Mr Mike Mbuvi Sonko received monies totalling to Sh8.6 million in April and May 2017 allegedly for campaign support, payment of debt and contract payment,” says EACC.
“It is evident from the said payment that Anthony Mwaura Ng’ang’a and Mike Mbuvi Sonko have a history of pecuniary support and business association which they apparently extended to fraudulent transactions with the County Government of Nairobi during the tenure of Mike Sonko as the governor, a position of great influence in the county,” says the commission.
Between October 11, 2018 and March 13, Hardi Enterprises, whose garbage collection tender was renewed, received Sh357 million for solid-waste disposal. It then transferred Sh55.8 million to Toddy Civil Engineering. Toddy, which is also owned by Mr Ng’ang’a and Ms Rose Njeri, transferred Sh3 million to the governor’s accounts.
EACC says that its investigation show that Hardi was not only given the garbage-collection contract fraudulently but it also got a second one for vehicle and equipment leasing through a direct tender.
The breaking of procurement rules began when the county secretary appointed members of a negotiation, opening and evaluation committee for garbage collection tender number NCC/WEFE & NPR/DP/276/2017. This was done without the authorisation of the Finance executive as required.
“Strangely and in blatant breach of public procurement regulation, the irregularly appointed committee met all the six prospective bidders on May 25, 2018 in what they referred to as a negotiation committee meeting and gave bidders blank bid documents and the rates to quote their bids,” says EACC.
“The purported negotiation committee meeting with the six bidders was pre-arranged with a common understanding among the members of the committee and the prospective bidders to agree on the rates to fill and submit for a superficial and stage-managed evaluation that followed,” says EACC.
Consequently, Purlexis Enterprises, Hardi, Tsuma Trading Company, Acacia Equipment Ltd, Bonfide General Contractors and Ms Daasanach Construction Ltd quoted the same rates for the tender.
All the six who were in a meeting held on June 4 last year were awarded the tender after being certified as having met the evaluation criteria.
“Even then the tender evaluation committee did not follow the criteria set by the tender document in recommending bidders for award,” says EACC.
“In particular reference to the bid by Hardi Enterprises Limited, the bidder did not submit a VAT certificate, a fact which was overlooked by the Evaluation Committee which consisted of the same members of the ‘Negotiations Committee’,” says the commission.
On the vehicle and equipment leasing contract, EACC says the county government did not notify the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) that it had settled on a direct procurement method as required by the law.
EACC further says that some of the vehicles that Hardi claimed were used for garbage collection were saloon cars, vans, and motorcycles with no capacity to haul the tonnage of the garbage claimed.
“Evidence gathered from the owners of the saloon cars, vans and motorcycles established that these vehicles were never used to collect garbage yet Hardi Enterprises Limited claimed and received payments for the same,” says EACC.
“Some of the signatures and time sheets used by Hardi Enterprises Limited to claim payments were forgeries,” says the commission.
Last week, EACC directed 15 present and past Nairobi County executive committee members and senior county officials to record statements on Tuesday, a move that was thwarted by Mr Sonko.
While declining the commission’s attempt to interrogate his officials, the governor accused EACC of a witch-hunt, particularly accusing the commission’s director of investigations Abdi Mohamud of masterminding his tribulations.
On Friday, the governor accused EACC of failing to deal with corruption within its ranks and instead directing its energy at him for frivolous reasons.
“I am shocked that according to their own survey on corruption analysis of 2018 released two days ago by the EACC commissioners at the illegally acquired Integrity Centre, Nairobi is not even in the list of top 20 most corrupt counties,” said Mr Sonko.