Tolgos in hot soup over Sh200m fuel tender

Elgeyo Marakwet County Governor Alex Tolgos. [Wilberforce Okwiri/Standard]
Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos is the latest county chief to find himself in trouble with the anti-graft agency over claims of corruption.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is investigating Mr Tolgos over allegations of irregularities, bribery, conflict of interest and abuse of office in award of a Sh200 million fuel supply tender.

Detectives pursuing the matter accuse the governor of awarding contracts worth millions of shillings to companies he owns or is associated with, without following procurement laws. This raises questions about conflict of interest.

The county boss is being sought over claims he is a director at Kobcom Petroleum Limited that reportedly supplied petroleum products to the county government for four years.

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A letter to the governor by EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak says he has been summoned to appear before the commission on Thursday next week.

“The commission has been conducting investigations into allegations of procurement irregularities by the County Government of Elgeyo Marakwet during financial years 2014/2015, 2015/2016, 2016/2017 and 2017/2018,” Mbarak’s letter to Tolgos, dated November 4, reads.

It adds: “We have information alleging you are a director of Kobcom Petroleum Limited which supplied petroleum products to the county government of Elgeyo-Marakwet during the same period.”

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Carry documents

“In view of the above, you are hereby invited for interview and statement recording at the Integrity Centre located at Jakaya Kikwete-Valley Road junction on November 14 at 9am.”

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The EACC boss instructed the governor to carry all original documents in respect to the company’s ownership.

The investigators are looking into claims senior county government officials, among them the governor, have been awarding contracts worth millions of shillings to the companies linked to them.

Sources told The Standard that investigations have revealed that between 2014 and 2018, contracts worth over Sh100 million were awarded to various companies under unclear circumstances.

“EACC is therefore carrying out in-depth forensic investigations to establish whether actual goods and services were delivered and/or if there was value for money,” said an EACC official who did not wish to be named.

The commission is also investigating claims that since 2016, companies associated with the governor were also awarded contracts worth close to Sh80 million in other counties.

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“We are carrying out investigations to establish whether there were any irregularities involved in the award of the contracts,” said another investigator.

 Flagged transactions

The commission is basing some of its investigations on audit reports, especially the one for the year ending June 30, 2018 where former Auditor General Edward Ouko flagged transactions he claimed breached the law.

The auditor had issue with, among others, payment of Sh13 million to 1,702 temporary employees without evidence of approval from the Public Service Board.

The auditor also noted that Sh31.8 million was paid to a company in respect to proposed construction of a pavilion at Kamariny Stadium.

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“A physical verification in January 2018 revealed the project is incomplete. Consequently, the expenditure of Sh13.8 million incurred in the construction of a pavilion at Kamariny Stadium so far could not be confirmed,” the auditor stated.

Tolgos joins the long list of colleagues who are either under investigations or have been arraigned over corruption allegations.

Governors under investigations are Mwangi wa Iria (Murang’a), Charity Ngilu (Kitui), Alfred Mutua (Machakos), Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka/Nithi), Okoth Obado (Migori) and Mohamed Ali (Marsabit).

Those charged are Sospeter Ojaamong (Busia), Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), Ferdinard Waititu (Kiambu) and Granton Samboja (Taita Taveta). Also charged are former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and former Nyandarua county chief Waithaka Mwangi.

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Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgosfuel supply tenderEACC