EACC exposes Kiambu Governor Waititu's financial dealings

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu (centre) with EACC officials after he was arrested over corruption allegations on May 23, 2019. [Beverlyne Musili/Standard]

 Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC)  has tabled potentially damning evidence in a bid to prove that Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu used money from a kickback paid by a contractor to partly pay for a hotel he bought in Nairobi’s prime University Way, in a blatant show of how governors and their cronies are looting counties.

A trail of bank transfers released by EACC and presented in court is aimed at  revealing that the company that sold Waititu the Delta Hotel, known as Lake Naivasha Resort received Sh6 million from a road contractor who was awarded the tender under alleged influence of the governor.

The money is thought to have been part of the payment for the acquisition of the hotel which Waititu earlier told the media cost him hundreds of millions. Waititu also bought another prime building located at the intersection of Biashara Street and Koinange Street also worth hundreds of millions.

Questions were raised earlier over the source of the money that the governor used to pay for the two buildings, but he explained that he sold two petrol stations along Kangundo Road in Nairobi and topped the money with a bank loan.

The trail of bank transfers investigated by the EACC indicates that the governor received Sh25.6 million, alleged to be kickbacks out of the Sh221.4 million the county paid to the contractor, known as Testimony Enterprises Limited.

The money, EACC maintains, was channelled through proxies, mainly family members including his wife and daughter.

Red alert

Faith Njeri Harrison, his former Chief Finance O­fficer was the first senior county o­fficial to raise alarm over high-level corruption in Kiambu County, accusing the governor directly of being involved in the vice.

Her revelations which were made last month are a pointer that there is likely to be more scandals in Kiambu where taxpayers may have lost hundreds of millions, all pointed to the governor.

Njeri resigned in June, was reinstated but resigned again over what she termed as chocking corruption and land grabbing.

“The department is the custodian of public properties, but it is sad to report that many public utilities, houses and quarries have been transferred to individuals, some of whom are relatives or people associated with the county leadership,” Njeri told reporters in a damming expose that indicates deeper corruption at the county.

The former o­fficer alleged that some houses in Kamenu and near Blue Post Hotel in Thika were among those that had been transferred to individuals, with some public parcels in the county already sold.

In another shocking revelation, Njeri alleged that revenue collection o­fficers and enforcement o­fficers were casual workers who had been hired illegally as they lacked appointment letters.

“We currently have people who are not employees of the county collecting revenue. Things are really bad and something needs to be done to salvage it,” she said.

Even more damming, she said; “Almost all the tenders in the county are awarded to the people associated with the county leadership.

Procurement department has no independence and is dictated upon on who to award tenders.”

Five more o­fficers of the finance department followed with their resignations citing interference from the governor.

It is alleged that the governor given a list of the companies to be paid pending bills week but Njeri and her team paid firms they thought were more deserving as some of their bills were bending since 2015.

Last month, Kiambu Principal Magistrate Brian Khaemba was suspended without pay by Chief Justice David Maraga for awarding anticipatory bill to Waititu which made it against the law to arrest the governor. The decision was criticized with the magistrate later opting to resign.

Khaemba failed to satisfactorily explain why he heard Governor Waititu’s application despite having been granted a sick leave.

“The explanation you gave dated June 6 is unsatisfactory as you had no authority to handle the matter the same having not been allocated to you. In any case, you had no jurisdiction to entertain the matter,” Maraga outlined in a letter addressed to Khaemba, dated June 13.

Cash audit trail. [Courtesy]

More revelations

EACC says Waititu influenced the awarding to the tender to Testimony Enterprises Limited. The tender was to construct roads in five sub-counties to bituminous standard. The tender was worth Sh588 million.

“The tender evaluation committee while evaluating the five bids deviate from the set-out evaluation criteria by introducing requirements in favour of the winning bidder (Testimony Enterprises Limited),” says the EACC in its evidence.

It says while the head of procurement pointed some gaps relating to the winning bid, the accounting o­fficer, meaning the Chief O­fficer for Roads, disregarded them as minor and proceeded to award the tender and sign the contract.

The agency reveals that despite the company being paid Sh147 million, “there is no commensurable work done on the ground by the contractor to warrant payment. The little that has been done is substandard as part of the road done is worn out and full of potholes.”

EACC says that Sh25.4 million which forms part of the Sh221 million paid to the contractor by the Kiambu County government has been traced to bank accounts of companies associated with the governor and his family members.

The agency holds that the remainder of the money paid to the contractor was withdrawn in cash and transferred to other destinations of which investigations are ongoing.

EACC has recommended prosecution of the following;

Governor Waititu, his wife Susan Wangare, his daughter Monica Njeri, Chief O­fficer for Roads Lucas Waihinya, five members of the tender committee, Charles Mbuthia who is a director of Testimony Enterprise Limited, his wife Beth Wangeci and the directors of two companies owned by the governor which are Bieneveue Delta Hotel Limited and Saika Two Estate Developers.