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11 held in EACC swoop over Covid-19 hospital

COAST
By Nehemiah Okwembah | May 15th 2020
EACC investigating expenditure on a hospital complex that has been in construction since 2017

Kilifi County Secretary Arnold Mkare and 10 other senior officials were on Wednesday arrested over the construction of the recently launched multi-million shilling Covid-19 building.

They were freed after interrogation by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) agents who are investigating expenditure on the Sh850 million Kilifi Medical Complex Hospital. It has been under construction since 2017 and was recently converted into a Covid-19 isolation centre.

EACC claims these officials obstructed justice by failing to submit requested information, a claim they deny and in turn accuse the commission of malice and rushing to arrest them instead of allowing them to provide the information as promised.

Chief Officer Medical Service Bilal Madzayo and his public health counterpart Alio Ibrahim as well as Chief Officer Finance, Ben Kai, Head of Supplies Riziki Matano and County Attorney Bibi Fondo are among those arrested and later freed.

EACC Upper Coast boss Ignatius Wekesa together with his Lower Coast counterpart Mutembei Nyaga, who led the operation, said those arrested failed to provide EACC with information.

“County officers have been reluctant or have neglected to give information. We do not know whether it was deliberate,” Mutembei said.

Wekesa said EACC is conducting investigations and Kilifi County government had ignored letters from the anti-corruption body requesting information.

“The arrest comes after several notices were ignored by county government which failed to provide documents to assist us with investigation on misappropriation of legal fees,” he said.

Governor Amason Kingi denied that his officers deliberately refused to release the documents to EACC officers.

He said EACC failed to observe the Access to Information Act, 2016 which requires them to issue a notice on their area of interest of investigation to give the county officers adequate time to compile and produce the document as required.

“The officers stormed county offices and demanded documents on the medical complex.

“The document is in huge volumes and needs time to be photocopied. How do you expect them to photocopy such a document within two hours?” he posed.

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