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Standoff as Kinoti, Haji jostle over water agency boss case

By Cyrus Ombati | April 28th 2020
Acting CEO of the National Water Harvesting Authority Geoffrey Sang. [Stanley Ongwae, Standard]

The Director of Public Prosecutions has ordered a file on the investigations into claims of graft in the National Water Harvesting and Storage Authority (NWHSA) be taken to his office.

This was after officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) tried to charge six officials from the agency, including acting Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Sang, before getting approval from the ODPP.

Officials from the ODPP refused to approve the charges until the file is handed to their office for action.

Sang and his three colleagues were arrested on Thursday last week by a team of detectives from the Serious Crimes Unit at the DCI headquarters over a suspected dam construction scandal.

The ODPP refused to approve the charge sheets and directed that the original police file be taken to his office. Sang was, however, missing from the court, with his lawyer presenting a letter from a doctor indicating he had been hospitalised.

They were set to be charged with a number of counts, including abuse of office, conspiracy to defeat execution of a written law, neglect of official duty, and breach of trust by persons employed in the public service.

Those appearing in the charge sheet included Sang, Joseph Ojiambo Ouma, Bernard Aseno, Nixon Bett, Noah Arap Too and Peter Mutai

Wrong process

In one of the charges preferred by the DCI, the CEO and the HR boss are said to have, on February 28, facilitated the appointment of Lydia K Korir, a Procurement Assistant, to the Head of Procurement without following the HR management policies of the authority.

Also presented in court yesterday was Aseno, the authority’s senior security officer who has also been charged with abuse of office. It is alleged he allowed Nixon Kiprotich Bett, Noah Nondin arap Too and Mutai Peter Kibett access to the CEO’s office to obtain documents and electronic data of the authority.

Those set for arraignment were processed at the DCI headquarters ahead of yesterday’s developments. They had been grilled and their fingerprints taken.

Police had raided the authority’s offices along Dunga road and collected a number of documents related to the tender.

The project, situated in Turkana County, is meant, in the long term, to foster peace in resource-based conflict region and it entails construction of an 18-metre high dam made of clay core and shell materials.

According to information on the authority’s website, the project also entails water intake, delivery pipeline of steel of 200mm diameter and 500m long, two communal water points and three cattle troughs.

“The government of Kenya, through NWHSA, a State agency under the Ministry of Water and Sanitation and Irrigation, has set aside funds for the implementation of Naku’etum Peace Dam, which is located in Turkana County.

“NWHSA intends to use funds to pay for the construction of the works for the same project for which qualified contractors are invited to submit tenders for the works,” says Sang’ in the authority’s site.

The tender was closed on February 12, 2020 and was awarded to J&K Investment Kenya Ltd at a cost of Sh231,114,402.64. It was signed by Robert Kithinji on behalf of the contractor on March 26, and the NWHSA was represented by David Gitau, the Authority’s chief engineer in charge of construction, on April 20, last year.

Last month the DCI failed to charge former Kenya Ports Authority MD Daniel Manduku and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner Kevin Safari after ODPP requested for their files before approving prosecution.

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