Ngilu, Senator in fierce exchange over burnt county finance office

Kitui Governor Charity (L) and county Senator Enock Wambua (R). The two are embroiled in blame game over the burning of county's finance office. [File, Standard]

A fierce political storm is brewing in Kitui between Senator Enoch Kiio Wambua and Governor Charity Ngilu over who should be held guilty over a mysterious fire that razed county finance offices on Monday at dawn.

Mr Wambua and Mrs Ngilu have both gone for each other’s collar with each claiming the other is responsible and should be investigated and charged over the arson.

The Senator began the storm on Monday when he called for the arrest of the governor in connection with the fire that destroyed crucial documents stored at the offices since the inception of devolution in 2013.

“I have spoken to Inspector General of Police, Hillary Mutyambai concerning the fire that burnt down Finance offices in Kitui," said senator Enoch Wambua.

Wambua said Mutyambai has extended his hands and informed his security officers and promised to work out on the matter to have the culprits held responsibly.

“I'm not against Ngilu whatsoever. She is old enough for me. But the truth must be told, that Ngilu can never at all manage Kitui County,” the senator posted in the social media.

He expressed displeasure to the damaging of government property through an orchestrated crime.

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“Somebody must take responsibility. I want to hear from none other than the Governor of Kitui County. This time around, we shall not mince words. You can't run a criminal enterprise and expect the people of Kitui to clap for you. There will be no place to hide for the culprits and their financiers,” the Senator said in a statement shared widely in the social media.

Wambua said it is sad that offices belonging to the finance department have gone up in flames when the county fire engine remained immobile since it was bought.

“I have spoken to the County Commissioner and the county AP boss. All suspects must be rounded up,” he said.

But on Wednesday, the governor hit back, saying she was reading a foul play in the incident even before the conclusion of the investigations.

Ngilu, who is in Europe on a trip, that she is operating in a poisoned political environment where some leaders are quick to jump to conclusions at any misfortune that affects the county.

“Tellingly, Kitui County Senator Kioo Wambua and a few busybodies have already issued public statements with conclusions on the fire.  He (Wambua) and his cheering squad seem to know the cause of the fire, the motive and even who the suspects might be,” the governor said in her statement also shared widely in the social media.

Ngilu said the investigations should begin with these people, urging investigators to summon the senator and his team to share all that they know about the fire incident.

She said she received with shock the news of the unfortunate fire incident that caused extensive damage to the finance department offices.

“I have been briefed by the Deputy Governor and the county security team and I'm satisfied with the efforts taken to contain the damage of the fire and preserve the scene. I have directed all my officers to cooperate with investigative agencies. I also urge the investigation agencies to move with speed to bring anyone culpable to book,” the governor said.

Ngilu said in October last year, the finance offices were raided where valuable information and equipment relating to County transactions especially procurement documents were lost.

She said no sooner had the burglary occurred than the same senator started making allegations against the county government.

Ngilu claimed Wambua produced documents which naturally would be in the custody of their registry, adding that her administration reported the matter to the investigating agencies for the probe.

“Let Kioo state how and where he got procurement and payment vouchers. For now, we hold him as the prime suspect to the burglary of our offices in October. This fire and the burglary are grave matters of concern to the people of Kitui that need straight answers,” the governor said.

The plenary sitting chaired by Speaker George Ndotto also resolved to inquire in the extent of the damage and whether the building was insured.

Moving the motion, majority leader and Athi Ward Rep Peter Kilonzo, said the committee should further inquire whether there was a backup record of all documents housed in the razed offices and find out whether all other county offices comply with the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 2007.

Mr Kilonzo said the committee should come up with recommendations of installation of security masts and CCTV cameras at all the premises hosting county government offices.

 “This is a worrying trend in our county. It is high time the security agents provide answers. Some members in the Executive know the source of this fire and they should record statements,” Kilonzo said.

Kilonzo claimed the Executive has panicked after the assembly raised critical apprehensions on the expenditure of Sh1.7 billion meant for development projects in the expansive county during the 2018/2019 financial year.

He said there are a number of issues which include budgeted, approved and appropriated projects as contained in the previous budget that the assembly was seeking clarification on.

“We as the assembly would like to state that the real bone of contention between us and the Executive is on the assembly’s oversight role over the implementation of the 2018/2019 Budget,” the Wiper Party majority leader in the House said.

On Monday, Kilonzo claimed that Ngilu and her finance Executive Mary Nguli should be compelled to record statements with detectives.

He said he is not among people who are shocked by the fire that reduced crucial documents including payment vouchers and imprest forms for government officers stored at the office to ashes in the fire that struck at 2 am.

“Governor Ngilu and her finance minister should be held responsible. They know the source of this fire and they should record statements,” said Kilonzo.

Kilonzo said he cannot be surprised or rule out a conspiracy pitting two investigating government arms, pointing out that since Ngilu took over leadership in 2017, there has been collusion to defeat justice.

“The tourist offices were burnt down last year and, ever since there is no report from the DCIO. God is watching,” he said.

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Enoch Kiio WambuaCharity NgiluKitui CountyKitui Finance office