Probe on dams scandal now sucks in top State officials

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti during the National Council on Administration of Justice meeting in Naivasha. [File, Standard]
Investigations into multi-billion shilling dams and irrigation projects in Rift Valley have ballooned, sucking in senior government officials.

The three day grilling of Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, is said to have turned in so much information on what was otherwise a simple affair. So much so that the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji had to apprise the country of its complexity and beg time to haul culprits in court.

Besides roping in top officials, investigations have evolved into a political hot potato with Deputy President William Ruto claiming witch-hunt while President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga are sticking their necks out for it.

The next few days will be crucial as Mr Haji decides whether to cast the net wider as the DPP considers the prosecution strategy to adopt in light of the political implications of rushed moves.

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“I have noted the shocking magnitude of the amounts involved and the range of parties that are of interest to the investigations. This has in turn made investigations complex requiring investigators to cover a wide range of areas,” Haji’s Friday statement read, giving clear indicators of turbulence ahead.

The DPP’s references to “involvement of large number of government officials in the entire process” has also not escaped notice with claims that Mr Rotich may have implicated colleagues, something his lawyer Katwa Kigen is disputing.

“It is not correct to say the CS implicated anyone. What is correct is that the CS accounted for his actions and where responsibility rested elsewhere, he said as much. That is not the same as to say he implicated anyone,” Kigen told the Sunday Standard yesterday.

The initial probe had zeroed in on Kimwarer Dam and Arror Dam in the eyes of the public but as the DPP announced, it also covers Itare dam, Embobut Multi-purpose Dam, Lower Turkwel Irrigation Scheme and Napuu II Irrigation Project.

Itare in Nakuru County stalled after an Italian contractor pulled out, while Arror and Kimwarer are yet to commence despite huge spending to the tune of Sh21 billion. The other projects are assailed by one difficult or the other, all relating to money and performance.

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Among the issues said to have emerged during the probe undertaken thus far is identity of the alleged fixer, the link man between the Kenyan officials and the Italian investor at the heart of the investigations- Cooperative Muratori e Cementisti – CMC Di Ravena.

DCI is said to be pursuing a CCTV footage of a meeting held in Italy which is of interest to the investigations.

Paid out

“We must get a handle on more than Sh21 billion that has already been paid out, trace where and to whom every shilling has been paid so as to trace and establish any intended corrupt payments if any and the recipients thereof,” the DPP said.

Haji also alluded to a shadowy figures behind the deals, and to whom efforts are not being spared to nail: “An aspect of international cooperation shall be necessary in unearthing the true identity of the persons behind the entities fronted in the agreements.”

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Rotich’s questioning this week, running late into the night, is said to have triggered panic in Cabinet as investigators pushed the envelope further in a bid to pull out more from him. The process of approval for the projects also cropped up and with it big names may have been dropped.

“We need to explain something on the relationship between the procurement process, the commercial contract and the facilities agreement which have now done and left DCI,” Kigen told the Sunday Standard on Thursday night while leaving DCI.

Arror and Kimwarer dams were being implemented through KVDA. The National Land Commission had gazzetted 6,000 acres to be acquired for the projects.

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Henry RotichDirector of Public ProsecutionsNoordin HajiPresident Uhuru KenyattaCorruption