Baringo County officials probed in Sh107m fraud claims

End of a session at Baringo County Assembly. [File]
Up to 62 ward reps and county officials have recorded statements with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Two county executives and 35 members of the County Assembly including the Speaker David Kerich recorded statements on Friday.

The Ward Reps are under investigations for the Sh7 million trip to Arusha, Tanzania, while the county executives are being probed over Sh100 million suspected road rehabilitation procurement irregularities.

County Assembly Speaker David Kerich, his deputy Zelemoi Ameja, acting director of finance Nehemia Kandie, finance and economic planning county executive David Sergon and chief officer for finance Jane Barus were among those who recorded statements.

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In a letter dated October 9 to the clerk of the County Assembly, EACC said it is investigating suspected unethical conduct by ward reps during a ten-day trip to Tanzania on April 25, 2019.

Each ward rep is said to have been paid Sh368,205 per-diem, costing the taxpayer more than Sh4 million, and a further Sh3 million for other contingencies during the trip.

Another letter by the commission dated September 18, 2019 summoned the finance executive and chief officers. EACC said it is investigating suspected procurement irregularities in the construction of roads under the rapid results initiative dubbed ‘Imarisha Barabara.’

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Those summoned

Those summoned by EACC include former county secretary Stella Kereto, current county executive for water and who was recently moved from roads docket, Philemon Ronoh, Vincent Cheruiyot, Alex Karani, Ben Korir, Maureen Nthenya, Ezekiel Cheptumo, Eric Kiyai, Margaret Chesaro, David Rerimoi Samson Kirukmet and John Kibor.

SEE ALSO :Address real causes of graft, not symptoms

Others are Fredrick Kipruto, Dominic Chelelgo, Vincent Ngetich, David Maina, Richard Outa, Jeremiah Chepkilot, Raphael Kimosop, Purity Kibani, Ben Kipyegon, Maryline Mariko, Joan Korir, Daniel Sacho, Nixon Kandawala, Alice Kipkulei, and Michael Kiptoo.

The Sh100 million had been allocated for road projects across 30 wards in 2018/19 financial year budget.

According to EACC, procurement processes were not followed. The commission has put county executives and ward reps on the radar for spending millions of shillings on trips even as a number of projects remain incomplete.

Civil society groups have lauded the latest EACC’s move saying that the executive and the county assembly should be held accountable.

“We want the EACC to investigate further. What is under investigation is just but a drop in the ocean. There are a lot more happening behind the scenes,”  said Isaiah Biwott, the chairperson of Baringo civil society groups.

SEE ALSO :EACC links tycoon and county staff to land saga

According to Biwott, the county assembly is no longer playing its oversight rove over the executive.

 “We are not seeing value for our money while billions of shillings are being spent on travels and salaries,” said Biwott.

Residents also supported the ongoing anti-graft purge in the county.

Held accountable

“There are no development projects in the region. Those initiated earlier were abandoned. We need people held accountable,” said Michael Kakugo.

SEE ALSO :EACC boss interview, a year in office

According to the Controller of Budget report for 2018/19 financial year, Baringo County spent most of its budget on salaries and travel and less on development.

The county’s wage bill accounted for 57.5 per cent of total expenditure.

The county spent Sh183.24 million on travel, Sh107.62 million spent by the County Assembly and Sh75.61 million by the county executive.  

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EACCDavid KerichCorruptionBaringo County