Pressure mounts on Muraguri to quit as EACC storms ministry

Health principal secretary Nicholus Muraguri at Afya House, the ministry has been accused of the loss of Sh5 Billion which was misappropriated through diversion of funds, double payment for goods and manipulation of the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMIS) 28/10/16 [Photo:BEVERLYNE MUSILI/Standard]
There was a series of activities yesterday at Afya House, the building that houses the Ministry of Health as search for details around the Sh5.3 billion scandal ensued.

As the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) raided and searched through the building for documents, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu stood his ground against calls that he and his Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri resign over the alleged rip off. At the same time, nurses joined the growing chorus of those calling on heads to roll at Afya House. Dr Mailu called on Kenyans to exercise patience and await for the conclusive report of the investigators, promising that anyone who will be implicated will carry his/her own cross.

EACC’s Michael Mubea arrived at the ministry headquarters early in the morning accompanied by detectives and walked straight into the building. He would emerge moments later to declare that investigations would be carried out expeditiously. He said his organisation was however not aware of any missing documents in relation to the investigations. EACC officers carted away crucial documents that relate to the alleged scandal.

A soft speaking Mailu noted that while he understood the anger that the leaked internal audit report had generated among Kenyans, and especially on the amount of money involved, it was crucial that the public awaits the conclusive report - both of the internal audit and other investigative agencies that have been called to investigate the matter before a decision is taken.

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“We will abide by the outcome of the probe. Everybody will take responsibility for his or her actions. At the moment it is not in my plan to step aside. My responsibility is to make sure the audit I commissioned is complete,” said Mailu at a press conference yesterday.

He added: “We understand the anger out there with the public, especially when we are told that Sh5 billion has been embezzled, but we request for patience. Next week I will share with you the outcome of the probe.”

The Cabinet Secretary said he commissioned the internal audit, and with good intentions as part of his management functions. He said that the leaked audit report did not include replies to the queries that had been raised, even when some had been sufficiently answered.

He said the ministry had invited the EACC, the director of criminal investigations and the auditor general’s office to conduct their probes into the matter.

As this happened, the Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary General Seth Panyako was calling for Muraguri’s resignation, saying it would be immoral of him to remain in office.

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He urged the President to sack the PS on Monday if he will not have resigned, even as he threatened to mobilise nurses to join forces with other health workers in a demonstration to force Muraguri out of office. “We strongly condemn this runaway theft that denies babies, helpless mothers and patients their right under the watch of people who purport to be heading the departments in Afya House,” said Mr Panyako.

“If Muraguri fails to resign by end of today (Friday) then we are demanding that President Uhuru Kenyatta relieves him of his duties within 48 hours; failure to which all nurses, doctors and journalists will stage a major strike across the country, which will paralyse key sectors of the country’s economy,” said Panyako. Separately, the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) – the association of health professionals – called for expeditious and conclusive inquiry into the matter, saying those found culpable must be brought to account.

“KMA recommends that those found culpable of misuse of public funds be immediately relieved of their duties and arraigned in court as soon as possible in order to face the consequences of their actions,” they said in a statement.

But Muraguri, the man on the spot over the scandal, apologised for making remarks which he acknowledged were in bad taste. He said, “In the past few days, comments attributed to me have widely circulated. I would like to state that indeed, many of those comments are mine, made in circumstances around people well known to me. This is my formal apology to journalists, the media fraternity, my colleagues in government and the people of Kenya. My comments were unfortunate and regrettable and do not represent my philosophy or stand as a public servant.”

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ministry of healthnicholas muraguricleopa mailu