Thuita resigns as Athi Water CEO amid probe into Sh50 billion tenders

By Esther Nyambura | Sep 23, 2023
Athi Water Development Agency Chief Executive Officer Michael Thuita. [Courtesy]

Athi Water Development Agency Chief Executive Officer Michael Thuita has resigned.

Thuita who served as the CEO of the Agency for five years resigned today morning a day after Chief of Staff and the Head of the Public Service Felix Koskei ordered his suspension.

Thuita was on Friday arrested by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission from his hideout in Nairobi’s Parklands for awards of three multi-billion tenders.

According to EACC, Thuita is a wanted man to facilitate ongoing investigations into alleged fraud in the implementation of water projects valued at over Sh5o billion.

The Commission said it invoked its enforcement powers under the law to compel cooperation after the embattled CEO severally defied orders to submit to the Commission documents in his custody as well as attempts to obstruct the probe.

The Commission had in May this year wrote to Water CS Alice Wahome advising her to consider suspension of Thuita.

The Commissioned rained concerns that Mr Thuita would interfere with investigations into the claims leveled against him.

The subject matter should have been investigations and not suspension.

Last week, Water and Sanitation Principal Secretary Dr Kiprono Rotich wrote to his boss, CS Wahome urging her to suspend the CEO on grounds that his continued stay in office was going against President William Ruto’s resolve to fight corruption.

Following his arrest, in a letter addressed to the agency’s board chair Charles Karondo, Koskei argued that Thuita faces grave corruption allegations making him unfit to run the office.

“The Chief of Staff and Head of the Public Service Felix Koskei has asked the Board of the Athi Water Works Development Agency to suspend its Chief Executive Officer Michael Thuita pending investigations into alleged irregularities in the award of tender for water projects,” read the statement released by Statehouse spokesman Hussein Mohamed.

Mr Koskei also asked the Board of Central Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency to suspend its Chief Executive Officer Eng Samuel Oruma pending investigations into alleged procurement irregularities in the implementation of the Water Supply and Sanitation System for Bomet/Longisa/Mulot towns project within the jurisdiction of the agency.

The Head of Public Service in letters to the chairmen of the two boards said the two CEOs are in office, notwithstanding the gravity of allegations and the quantum of resources under inquiry.

Mr Koskei said the inordinate delay in taking action on the part of the board of directors and the ministry is undermining the government's war against corruption.

The said tenders Thuita is accused of interfering with, are those of the construction of Ruiru II, Karimenu, and Kitui Matuu water projects which are undertaken by the agency he oversees.

Thuita however resigned before the chair could respond to the demands made by Koskei.

He will be replaced by Joseph Mungai Kamau before his new role served as the chief manager of water, sewer, and sanitation at the agency.

Last month a private citizen sued Water Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome over the state of affairs at the water agency.

Caroline Wambui Mwangi in a petition filed at the High Court in Nairobi accuses the CS of obstructing ongoing corruption investigations at the State agency, which falls under her docket. 

Ms Mwangi through Robinson Maina Law Firm also wants the court to rule over the legality of the continued stay in office of Thuita following the lapse of his second three-year term.  

“Having served as the Chief Executive Officer since June 6, 2017, the first respondent (Thuita) has to date served for a cumulative tenure of six years, two months, and still counting, thus grossly violating the law on the tenure of office,” she said in court documents.

Ms Mwangi sought a court order to compel Mr Thuita to vacate office, citing the ongoing investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) into his alleged involvement in procurement irregularities related to several water projects.

The petitioner claimed Mr Thuita’s extended stay in office is an attempt to hinder the ongoing probe, manipulate evidence, and silence potential witnesses.

In her affidavit, Ms Mwangi alleges that the EACC had recommended the suspension of Mr Thuita during the course of its investigation, a recommendation that was ignored by CS Wahome.

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