Nine government officials in Nandi County have been arrested over missing construction materials worth millions of shillings.
The missing materials, bought by the government, were to be used in constructing 60 Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) centres.
The arrested officials are from the Department of Education. They include Education Chief Officer David Sang, ECD director Julius Too, ECD Project Manager Eliud Mosbei and Procurement Officer Joseah Kogo.
The officials in Governor Stephen Sang’s administration were arrested last week. There was fear that the police were hunting for more suspects in the ongoing investigations.
Police released Mr Sang and Mr Too after they recorded statements with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Kapsabet. The police are yet to release names of the other suspects arrested.
On Friday, Mosbei and Kogo were arraigned before a Kapsabet court charged with stealing 400 bags of cement and 637 iron sheets from the county government.
The charge sheet, read before resident magistrate Boniface Wachira, stated that on diverse dates between March 22 and April 26, jointly with others not before court, they stole 400 bags of cement valued at 324,000 and 637 pieces of iron sheets valued at Sh1,146,000.
The ECD Project Manager and Procurement head pleaded not guilty to the charges and were each released on Sh300,000 bond, pending mention of the case on May 8.
Sang and Too recorded statements at the DCI in Kapsabet after their arrests and were later released.
More county officers are expected to be presented before court today.
The county allocated Sh234 million to the project in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years. However, not a single classroom has been constructed to date.
The crackdown was led by county police commander Thomas Ngeiywo and his DCI counterpart Sammy Mukeku.
Police say they suspect the construction materials were diverted and sold or taken for private use.
“Investigations are ongoing, I will issue an official report later,” said Mr Ngeiywo.
Some of the missing materials, including cement, iron sheets and nails, were allegedly found hidden in homes of some county officials.
Officials in the procurement, finance and education departments have reportedly switched off phones and gone underground for fear of arrests.
“The police are yet to establish the worth of the recovered materials. However, investigations are still going on, with those arrested assisting us in getting to the bottom of this matter,” read a report at Nandi Central police station.
The arrests follow impeachment of Education Executive Valentine Chumo by the county assembly. Ms Chumo was accused of failing to account for the missing ECD project funds.
Chumo has since moved to court to block the impeachment.
Ol’lessos MCA Mengeech Rono, who chairs the Education committee, released a report that detailed how the Education department allegedly misappropriated more than Sh230 million in ECD project funds through skewed procurement processes.
“It is now about two years since this ECD project was initiated. No single project is complete yet the funds have been used,” said Mr Rono.
He added: “The Assembly discovered loopholes in the county procurement department, which we suspect were used to divert hundreds of millions of ECD project funds.”