Journalists were yesterday barred from covering a meeting on car loans for Members of the County Assembly.
County Assembly Clerk Jacob Ngwele was being grilled by the assembly's watchdog committee over the irregular transfer of Sh45 million meant for the ward representatives' car loans.
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This happened as detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) raided City Hall in search of documents to shed more light on the matter. The sleuths were also said to be probing double payment of contracts, unexplained expenditures and ‘unscrupulous’ deals.
Journalists were asked to leave the chambers immediately the clerk arrived for questioning by Public Accounts Committee chairman Wilfred Odalo. Committee clerks were also asked to step outside.
“I would like to ask members of the Fourth Estate to leave but we are going to call you back later,” said Odalo.
Efforts to access the meeting proved futile as the Sergeants-at-Arms were under clear instructions not to allow the media back into the committee sitting.
Odalo later told journalists who had camped outside that the meeting had been adjourned to Wednesday next week.
According to a special report by Auditor General Edward Ouko on the Nairobi Assembly's car loan scheme fund, Sh45 million was irregularly transferred to five other accounts for unexplained purposes
“A review of the funds cashbook revealed that the money was irregularly transferred in 2016-2017 from the fund account to various accounts without approval of the county executive committee member for finance. Consequently, the county assembly was in breach of law,” read the report in part.
Ouko went ahead to clarify that the red flag was raised since the activity was contrary to Section 116 of the Public Finance Management Act 2012.
In response to the queries, Ngwele submitted that the fund started operations in June 2014 with an initial amount of Sh254 million. A further Sh40 million was received in the period under reporting.
Since then, the clerk stated, a total of 130 loan beneficiaries have made borrowings amounting to Sh260 million. Of this, Sh253 million had been paid and Sh7 million was outstanding as at the reporting date.