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Governor distances self from purchase of Tokyo embassy

Kenya: Kirinyaga Governor Joseph Ndathi has claimed that he was sidelined in the acquisition of the Tokyo Chancery and ambassador’s residence.

The matter is at the centre of an ongoing trial of three senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials.

Mr Ndathi, who was then the director of administration in the ministry, told Senior Principal Magistrate Doreen Mulekyo of the Anti-corruption court that correspondence from the Tokyo Mission and the Ministry in Nairobi touching on the planned purchase of the premises were directed to his deputy, Anthony Muchiri.

“As the director of administration, I can confirm to this court that some of the letters that came from the Tokyo Mission over the planned purchase were never directed to my desk but to that of my deputy, yet there is a standard procedure for such correspondence,” he said

While being cross-examined by defence lawyer Paul Muite, the governor, who chaired the Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC) when the deal was signed, also said that there was no full disclosure to the team about the planned purchase.

“Critical deliberations on the planned purchase were not supposed to be made through letters but via formal sittings of MTC. I was handed some memos when a deal had already been sealed,” Ndathi told the court.

The governor said former Foreign Affairs PS Thuita Mwangi, former ambassador to Libya Anthony Muchiri, his deputy at the time, and the Charge d’Affairs at the Tokyo embassy Allan Mburu, proceeded to pay for the Tokyo property without the involvement of the MTC as required by the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005.

However, Mr Muite produced in court the schedule and list of embassies Ndathi visited between January and April 2009, which he said may have been the reason why the former director was not privy to the on-goings of the planned purchase.

However, the governor defended himself against the accusations, arguing that his busy schedule overseas was no reason to be denied information.

Muite, however, sought to know from the witness how and why Mr Mwangi was culpable for the offence yet it was the MTC that approved the purchase of the Tokyo property.

The governor told the court that as of April 2009, the MTC had only approved to undertake the procurement process and not the actual purchase.

The case was adjourned until June 25, when Mburu and Muchiri’s lawyers, Kioko Kilukumi and Wilfred Nderitu, are expected to further cross-examine the governor.