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Anxiety as EACC raids Migori and Homa Bay counties

By James Omoro and Caleb King'wara | Published Fri, August 17th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 16th 2018 at 22:15 GMT +3
6 out of 11 Migori county officials arraigned in court before senior resident Magistrate Richard Odenyo on August 16, 2018 over alleged corruption. [Caleb Kingwara/Standard]

Fear has gripped officials in two counties after a raid by anti-graft officers netted 11 senior staff suspected of corruption and abuse of office.

The arrests in Homa Bay and Migori were the culmination of months of investigations into how the officials allegedly abused their powers in awarding tenders and misappropriated public funds running into millions of shillings since 2014.

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At least seven other officials were still on the run after evading arrest yesterday.

In Migori, six senior officers appeared before Migori Senior Resident Magistrate Richard Odenyo, but did not take plea as five of their co-accused were still being sought.

Those in the dock were Elekia Ochola Odari, Charles Wambora, Lazarus Ogutu, Tom Kwasi, Collins Omondi and Francisca Katile Mulwa Anyango.

The absent suspects were named as Dan Odhiambo Othuondo, Martin Wandabwa, James Amenya, Joshua Opondo and Jackline Magero.

Office furniture

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The eleven were accused of flouting procurement guidelines when they awarded a tender to a company called Arryan Ltd to supply office furniture, yet it did not qualify.

According to the charge sheet, the officers willfully failed to ensure that the procurement process for furniture for the governor’s residence was complied with. They were released on a personal bond of Sh30,000 and ordered to appear in court on August 27 to take a plea.

In Homa Bay, officers from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) were yesterday hunting for county assembly Clerk Bob Kephas after Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji recommended his arrest and prosecution alongside six others over corruption-related cases.

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Kephas and assembly principal accountant Maurice Amek reportedly evaded the EACC officers, who had arrested five other suspects in a stealth operation at dawn before detaining them at the Homa Bay Police Station.

Those arrested included chief finance officer Caroline Chepkemoi Sang, cashier Edwin Okello, nominated MCA Judith Omogi - who served as a member of the assembly service board in the previous administration - former Majority Leader Owino Ooro and former Minority Leader Isaac Nyandege.

EACC Deputy CEO Michael Mubea said they were on the trail of Kephas and Amek.

“It is true that the two have disappeared but we are looking for them. We must ensure they are arrested and charged,” said Mubea on the telephone. “Going into hiding will not save them. They should surrender and face the charges.”


Embezzled funds

According to Haji, the five will be held accountable for embezzlement of public funds that occurred in the 2014/2015 and 2016/2017 financial years.

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He said the EACC had conducted investigations which established that Kephas, MCAs together with suspects from finance and procurement departments misappropriated public funds.

“Homa Bay County Assembly misappropriated public funds through fictitious and irregular procurement of hotel services and payments of MCAs’ allowances leading to loss of Sh26.8 million,” read Haji’s statement.

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