Former ward representatives say they pocketed Sh80, 000 each to attend meeting that did not happen

From left: Yahya Mutali, Wanyela Ochunga, Chuli Murumba and Fredrick Mukhwana during the hearing of the case. [Photo:Duncan Ocholla/Standard]
Seventeen Members of the County Assembly from Bungoma received Sh80, 000 each to attend a committee meeting that never took place, a court heard yesterday.

The MCAs, members of the county assembly's Implementation committee, were paid to attend a meeting and subsequently file a report on the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP). They were meant to sample projects and programmes undertaken by the county government and assess their progress before tabling a report in the House.

Testifying during the trial of seven ex-officials from the county government, two MCAs who received the money said the meeting, which was scheduled for March 20-27, 2016, never happened due to logistical issues.

Bernard Namaswa, who was the chairman of the Implementation committee, told the court the laxity was on the part of the committee's secretariat and the clerk for failing to make arrangements for the venue.

Mr Namaswa, the former Dalu/Tambani Ward MCA, told the court no CIDP report was written as the meeting was rescheduled to a date when the MCAs were on an official trip in Mombasa.

“My 17-member committee received the money for facilitation but they are not the ones booking the conference facilities. That was the work of the clerk and the secretariat, which they never did,” he said.

Namaswa disowned a report he was shown in court, saying the committee never met or wrote any report concerning the CIDP.

The report, which bore his name and signature, was produced by the defence to counter claims that the meeting never took place.

Namaswa also dismissed minutes, also bearing his name and signature, produced in court and purported to have been taken during the meeting.

“Though the minutes and the report bear my name and signature, I want to be clear that as the chairman of the committee I never convened such a meeting nor oversaw any report written on the subject in question."

He was testifying in a case in which seven former county officials are charged with 14 counts, among them conspiracy to commit corruption offences, fraudulent acquisition of public property and making false documents.

They are Chuli Murumba (county secretary), County Director of Human Resource Mathias Wanyela, Dunstan Wafula (committee clerk) and accountants Yahya Mutali, Fredrick Mukhwana, Carolyn Malangachi and Ben Arenico.

They were jointly said to have conspired to misappropriate public funds amounting to Sh2, 360,000 million and failing to account for the same on diverse dates between September 13, 2016 and December 23, 2016.

Ms Malangachi is charged with making a false payment schedule, purporting it to be a genuine document.

During cross-examination by lawyers Siro Obae and Abok Odhiambo, the witness said the money was never refunded to the county government.

“The problem was not from the people who received the money, it was for those who were mandated to facilitate the meeting starting with Dunstan Wafula (sixth accused), who gave out the money,” he said.

The documents were sent to a forensic documents examiner to ascertain the authenticity of the names and signatures. The hearing resumes today.

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County Assembly from BungomaMCAsCounty Integrated Development PlanCourt hearing