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Peter Mangiti: I was sacrificed over fears I was sharing NYS secrets with Raila

Former devolution PS Peter Mangiti during an interview at the Railways Golf Club in Nairobi on October 19, 2023. [Silas Otieno, Standard]

Former Devolution PS Peter Mangiti has claimed that he was sacrificed in the National Youth Service scandal over suspicion that he was sharing secret information with opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Speaking two days after being acquitted in the Sh791 million NYS theft case, Mangiti said it has been a painful eight-year trial for a crime he never committed and suffered just because some senior people in the Jubilee government thought he was not loyal to the system.

“They knew I was innocent but because Raila had started making noise over the looting of public funds at NYS, the people misled the president that I was the one feeding the opposition with information so they fabricated the charges to push me out,” said Mangiti.

The former PS said even investigators at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations knew he was innocent and had initially cleared and listed him as a witness but the narrative mysteriously changed and he turned from an informer to the accused person.

He claimed that since his adversaries could not link him to any theft and loss of public funds, they fabricated a charge of attempting to induce former NYS Deputy Director-General Adan Harakhe to withhold information in on the theft.

Sacrificial lamb

It was the charge for which Mangiti was acquitted on Tuesday, alongside former NYS Director General Nelson Githinji and businessman Ben Gethi after Nairobi Chief Magistrate Wendy Micheni ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove their participation in the theft of public funds.

“I knew from the beginning that there was no case against me and I was just a sacrificial lamb. I was taken through the harrowing experience yet I was innocent; there is no way I could have threatened Harakhe and stopped him from giving information,” he said. Mangiti, however, admitted that there was actual looting at NYS which he tried to prevent but was met with powerful cartels who collaborated with senior government officials.

According to the former Principal Secretary, his troubles started in May 2015 when an anonymous whistleblower wrote to the DCI about the theft at NYS.

He called Harakhe to explain the incident but the deputy director general informed him that someone had hacked into his account and changed the password for the IFMIS payment system and after doing internal investigations, they suspended the persons responsible.

Dirty deals

When DCI completed investigations, they listed Mangiti as the first witness, having not found any wrongdoing. “At the time, the PS had no role in operating the IFMIS and since the government parastatals, including NYS, were financially autonomous, I did not have any role in approving the payments but they conspired to push me out,” said Mangiti.

Mangiti said he became aware of dirty deals happening at NYS involving high-profile projects by people close to senior government officials, which he tried to stop but the cartels started fighting back.

He claimed that some of the payments which led to the ‘NYS Season One’ case were actually fictitious since some people just made calls and were paid on the false pretence that they had supplied goods and services.

Mangiti said he appointed a team of auditors to block some of the payments but his efforts received resistance from the cartels.

He claimed he informed his former boss, then Devolution CS Anne Waiguru but she too failed to take action.

Mangiti said he has no hard feelings against people who orchestrated the fabricated charges. At 63, Mangiti said he is past the years when his experience would have been more valuable in public service but is happy the trial is over and he can now enjoy his retirement in peace.  

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