Officers fail to defend Sh18 million transfer to M-pesa account

Department of Youths, Gender, Sports, Culture, Social Services and Children executive member Marita Agufana (right) and her chief officer Wycliffe Manyulu as they leave the assembly after grilling.  [Eric Lungai, Standard]
VIHIGA, KENYA: Vihiga County government officers failed to explain to a county assembly committee how Sh18 million was transferred from their department account to an M-pesa account between June 30 and July 4, 2018.

Department of Youths, Gender, Sports, Culture, Social Services and Children executive member Marita Agufana and her chief officer Wycliffe Manyulu said they had transferred the money to M-pesa to avoid it being returned to Central Bank at the lapse of 2017/18 financial year.

The money was meant to help promote sports and cultural activities at the ward level, in tournaments that were set to commence in the upcoming weekend, but now face uncertainty.

“We could not keep the money in the departmental account because it would have been returned to the Central Bank, before we used it for the ward activities that were supposed to start immediately,” Ms Agufana said.

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She noted that they placed a request through the Finance office when they realised the financial year was coming to an end, and were advised to channel the money to an M-pesa account at Kenya Commercial Bank, where it would be easily accessed as they waited for the government to allow them use money for 2018/19 financial year.

The two appeared before the committee on Youths, Gender, Sports, Culture, Social Services and Children chaired by Gisambai ward rep Eric Odei.

Mr Odei read malice in the activities of the department, noting they had from the start failed to show transparent coordination and were intentionally pushing MCAs out of the scheduled tournaments.

He said the department had contravened the Public Finance Act by duping the public and the government that they had used the money, yet they were holding it in a secret account.

“The money that is being held in the M-pesa account, is it for the last financial year or the current one? How sure are we that the money is safe in that account?” Odei posed.   

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Mr Manyulu, who could not defend why the money was put on an M-pesa account, was afraid that he may be the first officer in the county to fall victim of the corruption purge witnessed countrywide.

Manyulu could not explain how they were able to transfer Sh18 million to the M-pesa account, and even asked MCAs to help them with the correct procedure they could have followed.   

“We were supposed to submit a statement by the end of financial year so the money that we have we are holding it legally. We have consulted the controller of budget whether to use the money,” he said.

He said they have an agreement with Safaricom to use the account for bulk payments, especially for the tournaments they want to hold.   

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M-PesaVihiga CountyKenya Commercial Bank