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Accounts committee grills Interior PS Monica Juma over missing cash bail books

Interior Principal Secretary Monica Juma

Interior Principal Secretary Monica Juma Monday appeared before a parliamentary watchdog committee over mismanagement of cash bail books at police stations in Nairobi.

Ms Juma, who appeared before the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC), was hard pressed to explain why 144 cash bail books from six selected police stations in the city were missing.

According to the 2013-14 auditor general's report, examination of receipt books register officials at police headquarters revealed that the documents had been distributed to the different police divisions, but verification established that some of them could not be accounted for.

"From the auditor general's report, a verification undertaken in sampled police divisions in Nairobi namely Lang'ata, Karen, Buru Buru, Athi River, Makadara, Traffic Headquarters and Nairobi Area Police Stations reveals that 144 cash bail books were missing. This is a very serious issue and it means millions of shillings were lost, we need an explanation," said PAC vice chair Jackson Rop.

Seal loopholes

Juma admitted that the matter of cash bail issue is a big one and they are exploiting multi-sectoral approaches, including the Judiciary to ensure problems arising in the area and loopholes used by rogue officers are sealed.

"Of the 144 books in questions, 105 have been traced and 39 remain untraced. Criminal investigations inquiries have been commenced against officers who issued the books that cannot be found," she explained.

Nambale MP John Bunyasi asked the PS if she was aware that the cash bail issue is a problem across all police stations. "Six police stations were sampled, but it is common knowledge that this matter affects all Kenyans. What systems are you putting in place as a ministry to ensure it is no longer a bother?" he asked.

Juma answered: "We are already progressing in overhauling and strengthening our systems. With other partners we are trying to explore business processes where there will be minimum handling of cash like using e-payment methods and even M-PESA."

During the grilling, it emerged that the audit report had revealed that 205 counterfeit cash bail books were in use at Nairobi Area Traffic, Industrial Area, Axle Load Enforcement Unit, Highway Patrol Unit, Road Safety Unit, Kiamumbi,Kasarani and Athi River Police Stations.

Teso North MP Arthur Odera sought to know how many of the police officers who issued fake cash bail books and those reported missing have been arrested and charged.

"The books that were reported to be fake, were later to found to be genuine. We will launch comprehensive inquiries on those we deem responsible for the loss of the books," Juma said.