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EACC raids Waiguru’s homes over Sh23m probe

By Standard Team | August 21st 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Anne Waiguru (centre) when she toured a widows' poultry group in Gichugu on Wednesday. [Joseph Muchiri, Standard]

Anti-graft agency detectives raided the homes and office of Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru in an ongoing probe into claims of corruption at the county.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) said they were investigating allegations that the governor and other officials at the county government were irregularly paid travel allowances amounting to Sh23 million.

Yesterday, detectives armed with a search warrant granted by a Nyeri court on Wednesday evening, descended on the governor’s palatial home in Kagio at 6am ready to carry out the raid. The raid would later be extended to her home in Kitisuru, Nairobi.

EACC officials from the Central region office staged the dawn raid at Waiguru’s rural home and later moved to her office located at the county headquarters at Kutus township.

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Waiguru was said to be at her home when the officers struck. She had spent the previous day in the county launching a chicken project.

Her husband, Kamotho Waiganjo, was with her.

The officers were allowed access to the home and embarked on a two-hour search, but left later in the company of the governor and Waiganjo.

Similar raids were also conducted at the homes and offices of Chief of Staff Selah Bogonko and Chief Finance Officer Patrick Ndathi, an official confirmed.

Detectives later proceeded to the county government offices and remained there for hours. They later carted away four computers from Waiguru’s office.

EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak said they were seeking to establish whether the trips were taken.

“EACC is in the process of establishing whether the trips were actually undertaken and whether the documents supporting disbursement of Sh23,000,000 to county officials were genuine,” he said.

The documents the officials were seeking included those on payment for all the imprests relating to travel of the governor in the financial year 2018-2020, computers, laptops and iPads used by the chief officer finance and chief of staff, cheques, cheque books, banking details of the officials and any other records relating to the affairs of the officials.

According to an affidavit by the investigating officer Boniface Gachoki from EACC, preliminary investigations had established that Sh23 million or thereabout was spent in respect of trips that were non-existent or that were not accounted for as required by law.

The probe has so far revealed that the recipients of the imprests did not surrender them within the time provided by law and in some instances never surrendered the money at all.

“Preliminary investigations further revealed a scheme hatched by the imprest recipients and other officials of the county government aimed at defeating the course of justice by creating false documents in support of the payments,” said part of the court documents.

Yesterday’s developments come weeks after Waiguru and the other officials were questioned at the commission offices over the claims.

The governor has denied the allegations made against her.

Waiguru was summoned for grilling at Integrity Centre, Nairobi, in relation to complaints contained in a failed impeachment motion by MCAs.

Among the complaints were claims the governor abused her office by claiming questionable payments for trips. The commission has already interviewed over 30 officials involved in processing the payments for the trips allegedly taken between 2018 and 2020.

According to EACC officials, they are trying to establish claims the amount in question could be more.

Investigators want to establish if the said trips existed, evidence they were official, the actual amount of money paid and received by the governor, and if the amount of imprests were accounted for in full within the stipulated time as per the law.

The officials also want to know 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 at large, which raises the bar of accountability for all State officers.

Waiguru survived an impeachment motion in July after senators said they did not find allegations against her sustainable. The MCAs have moved to court over the matter.

Mbarak said the investigations are ongoing and when complete, they will send the file to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for action.

Yesterday, Waiguru dismissed the raid as a witch-hunt, claiming it was linked to 2022 succession politics.

In a hard-hitting statement where she described the raid as a ‘charade’, Waiguru alleged that an unnamed individual was behind her woes.

She also claimed that the ransacking of her homes and office was aimed at distracting the public from allegations against a group of people “on various multi-million corruption allegations”.

“The raid is not about corruption investigations but a wider scheme to shape the 2022 succession politics and to distract the public. It is a decoy. It is intended to distract Kenyans who have been asking legitimate questions about how massive public monies have been spent,” she said.

Waiguru challenged EACC to use the zeal they have applied in her case to investigate other mega scandals where billions are alleged to have been lost.

[Report by Cyrus Ombati, Roselyn Obala and Nderitu Gichure]

Anne Waiguru Kirinyaga County EACC Corruption
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