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EACC grills Waiguru over graft claims in failed impeachment motion

By Cyrus Ombati and Roselyne Obala | July 23rd 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru during the impeachment motion hearing before the Senate Committee on the proposed impeachment at Parliament on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru was grilled by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) officials over allegation of abuse of office contained in the failed impeachment motion by the Assembly.

Waiguru was first summoned by EACC on July 15 but asked for more time.

Yesterday she arrived at the commission offices accompanied by her lawyer Paul Nyamodi.

The complaints against the governor included allegations of abuse of office by claiming payments of Sh10.6 million for trips that she never went for or were not official.

The commission has already interviewed 30 officials involved in processing the payments for the alleged illegal trips between 2018 and 2020.

EACC officials want to establish if the said trips existed, the actual amount of money paid and received by the governor and if the imprest was accounted for in full within the stipulated time as per the law.

The officials want to establish if the governor abused her office to improperly receive a benefit from public funds and if there were acts of omission or commission that violated the law.

Waiguru survived impeachment two weeks ago after senators said the allegations were not sustainable. The Members of County Assembly have moved to court over the same claims.

EACC boss Twalib Mbarak said once investigations are complete, they will send the file to the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for action.

Waiguru joins four other governors summoned by the EACC for various accusations.

Interference in the recruitment

For instance, on July 6 and 7, EACC grilled Lamu Governor Fahim Twaha over claims of irregular appointment of 13 officials to the county government.

There are claims that some of the officials were irregularly employed by the county government side-stepping the County Public Service Board of Lamu.

Some of the affected staff do not possess a degree as per the Salaries and Remuneration Commission guidelines.

Twaha did not respond to texts and phone calls seeking clarification on the matter.

The commission has investigated similar claims in Kitui, Garissa, Marsabit, Samburu, Busia, Homa Bay and Nandi counties. The governors are facing allegations of influencing appointments to county staff recruitment boards, employment of staff using forged documents, nepotism and over-staffing.

The governors denied the claims, saying the staff were competitively recruited on merit.

The probe came as tenure of some County Public Service Board members tasked to recruit staff draw to an end.

A number of board members have complained that governors allegedly influenced recruitment of unqualified and unskilled staff.

Mbarak had warned governors to abide by the hiring law or risk being arrested and prosecuted.

“The commission is monitoring the process to detect any malpractices or irregularities by county governments and will take appropriate action against those found culpable. Be guided accordingly,” stated the EACC boss in a letter dated July 15, 2019 to all county secretaries through the Council of Governors CEO Jacqueline Mogeni.

“The commission has received complaints alleging malpractice and interference in the recruitment process of the boards in some county governments as the term of current boards come to an end,” the letter states.

The inquiry comes at a time counties are grappling with bloated workforce that has seen them spend more money on salaries and little on development.

Some governors have also been accused of employing relatives and cronies. A survey conducted in the 47 counties in June 2016 revealed that the devolved units are overstaffed by more than 25,000 workers.

The investigation focuses on the counties compliance with Chapter Six and the Leadership and Integrity Act, which lays out the basic tenets on moral and ethical requirements of public officers seeking to hold public office.

It also revolves around adherence to the national values and principles of governance, which include good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability.

EACC stated that hiring of staff by counties must be based on personal integrity, competence and suitability.

Mbarak said the Constitution prescribes the values and principles of public service, including fair competition and merit as the basis of appointments and promotions.

The files of the investigations are at various stages and are set to be sent to the DPP with various recommendations, Mbarak said.

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