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Pressure mounts on Rotich to resign after tough grilling

Thursday March 7 2019

Henry Rotich

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich. A lawmaker wants him to resign following the Arror and Kimwarer dam scandals. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

NYABOGA KIAGE
By NYABOGA KIAGE
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WYCLIFF KIPSANG
By WYCLIFF KIPSANG
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SAMWEL OWINO
By SAMWEL OWINO
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After two days of interrogations, beleaguered National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich walked out of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) haggard and without knowing his fate, as he started coming under mounting pressure to resign.

In Parliament, Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi threw the first salvo, calling on President Uhuru Kenyatta to sack Mr Rotich if the CS does not resign. It was the first time that an MP was calling on Mr Rotich to resign.

“I want to be the first person to call on Rotich to resign. Just as I urged President Uhuru Kenyatta to sack Rashid Echesa as Sports CS, I want to urge him to fire Rotich,” Mr Atandi said.

“Mr Rotich must just be fired. This dam scandal is his scandal,” he added.

THUGGE NEXT

Mr Atandi made claims of wrongdoing by Mr Rotich and a company known as HEKIRO, but we could not verify the claims from the minister, who was for the whole day holed up at the DCI.

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Multiple sources, who spoke to the Nation yesterday, said National Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge was also scheduled to be questioned to corroborate statements made by Mr Rotich.

“The PS is the ministry’s accounting officer, and he needs to account for what has been issued to us before we finalise the investigations,” a source privy to the investigations said.

The Treasury and Mr Rotich have been tasked to answer numerous questions about his interactions, conversations and correspondence with Italian company CMC di Ravenna, which was paid an advance of Sh7.8 billion for the construction of the Kimwarer and Arror multipurpose dams in Kerio Valley some 14 months ago.

The contractor has since gone to court in Italy seeking protection from creditors.

PROTEST

In Kerio Valley yesterday, residents of Kipsaiya in Elgeyo-Marakwet County, where the controversial Arror dam will be situated, demanded that the project be stopped until investigations into the scandal are concluded.

The residents, who held a peaceful demonstration along the Iten-Kapsowar road, praised Director Criminal Investigations George Kinoti for his efforts to probe the loss of taxpayers’ money.

“This project has been mired in mystery as there has never been any public participation. We support the President in his fight against corruption,” Benjamin Cheboi said.

The residents, who waved placards demanding the arrest of some leaders in the region, vowed not to move from their land until they are properly compensated.

“We thought it was a noble project which would have transformed this region economically, but it’s now becoming a cash cow for some greedy individuals,” Amos Koech, another resident, said.

INVESTIGATION

The sources within the DCI further revealed that sleuths investigating the case were finalising the process of handing over the investigation file to the Office of the Director of Public prosecutions for review.

The source further revealed that Mr Rotich had been “adversely implicated in the loss of Sh 20.5 billion payout for the tenders awarded to the Italian company, which has not only claimed bankruptcy ,but also abandoned the work”.

Although we could not verify the claims, there were reports that officers investigating the matter were considering charging Mr Rotich alongside Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) Managing Director David Kimosop, Mr Paul Serem, an engineer with the authority, and KDVA procurement manager William Maina Kiprotich.

WELFARE

The scandal has attracted the attention of the nation, especially after Deputy President William Ruto publicly differed with Mr Kinoti, the DCI boss, saying that the amount of money in question was only Sh7 billion.

Mr Rotich would later announce in a newspaper advertisement that the amount paid out amounted to about Sh20 billion.

The ambitious project was projected to serve more than 50,000 people living in the highland and lowland parts of the vast county upon completion.

Both projects are meant to produce electricity and boost irrigated agriculture. The project was projected to displace 900 families and schools.

Shopping centres and other public facilities would also have been affected.