Water CS Wahome defends decision not to suspend Thuita over corruption allegations

Water Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome.[Boniface Okendo,Standard]

Water Cabinet Secretary Alice Wahome has denied interfering with the corruption probe against the former CEO of Athi Water Works Development Agency (AWWDA), Eng. Michael Thuita, who is accused of irregularly awarding tenders worth millions of shillings.

In a statement issued on Saturday, September 23, Wahome said that she had cooperated with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and supported zero tolerance to corruption.

She also said that she had not suspended Thuita until she received more information from the EACC, as this did not affect the investigations.

“I have not in any way failed to cooperate with the EACC as alleged by mainstream media reports and the exercise of my discretion not to suspend Eng. Thuita until the requested information is availed to me did not in any way prejudice investigations,” Wahome said.

She added that the decision to suspend or dismiss Thuita was that of the Athi Water Board, and that she had received a letter from Thuita indicating his intention to resign.

“I am in copy of a letter addressed to Athi Water Board in respect of Eng. Michael Thuita by The Chief of Staff and Head of the Public Service, Mr. Felix Koskei, asking the board to deliberate on the matter within seven (7) days. The decision in this case is that of the Board and noting that I have also received another letter addressed to the same board by Eng. Michael Thuita and copied to me, the matter of Eng. Thuita is functus officio to the Board as he has opted to resign,” she said.

Wahome further stated that she would uphold the rule of law and constitutionalism in handling this matter and any other that may be brought to her attention in the course of her duties as the Cabinet Secretary.

Thuita is alleged to have inflated the cost of projects and misappropriated funds meant for water supply and sanitation in various parts of the country.

 The EACC has been conducting raids at his offices and residences, as well as those of other AWWDA officials and contractors, and has seized several documents and electronic devices as evidence.

 The EACC has also summoned Thuita and other AWWDA staff to record statements on the allegations.

Thuita has denied any wrongdoing and has said that he is ready to face justice.

This comes after State House Chief of Staff and Head of the Public Service Felix Koskei directed the Athi Water Board to suspend Thuita pending graft investigations by the EACC.

 In a statement on Friday, Koskei cited the irregularities in the award of tenders for the construction of Ruiru II, Karimenu and Kitui Matuu water projects as reason for Thuita’s suspension.

He said a delay by the board to take action against the CEO was undermining the government’s war against corruption.

Koskei also asked the Central Rift Valley Water Works Development Agency Board to suspend its CEO Samuel Oruma over similar accusations involving the implementation of the Water Supply and Sanitation System for Bomet, Longisa and Mulot towns projects within the jurisdiction of the agency.