Garissa Governor Ali Korane and four county officials are set to be charged with corruption-related to a Sh233 million World Bank-funded Kenya Urban Support Programme (KUSP) project.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji approved charges recommended by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) following a probe into the matter.
Mr Korane, the county’s chief of Finance Ibrahim Nur Malow, head of Treasury Mohamed Ahmed Abdullahi, County Executive Officer municipality Abdi Shale and head of Accounting at the municipal Ahmed Abdulahi Aden will face corruption charges.
They will be charged with conspiracy to commit an offence, willful failure to comply with the law relating to the management of public funds, misappropriation of public funds under Public Finance Management Act 2012 and abuse of office.
Haji said he appointed an independent team comprising senior prosecutors to review the matter and give their findings because the investigations were from his home county.
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The team found out that the county government was allocated Sh233.5 million as per County Allocation Revenue Act under conditional grants to counties for the year 2018/2019, and that the funds were deposited in the county’s account at the Central Bank of Kenya.
The money was meant to support municipalities, facilitate construction of Qorahey market, re-carpeting of Garissa Township CBD roads and construction of stormwater drainage and pedestrian walkways. “Instead of utilising the grant for the intended municipal projects, the money was diverted on different occasions between February and September 2019. The irregular diversions/transfer were facilitated by the four officials,” the DPP said.
The DPP explained that the governor signed the inter-governmental participation agreement for the project between the national and county governments and was obligated by law to deposit the same with the Speaker of County Assembly, which he failed to do, leading to lack of oversight.
He added that Korane failed to ensure utilisation of the grant in accordance with the law, leading to misappropriation of the same by county officials.
Investigators said funds channelled through the National Treasury to the Garissa County government were transferred to the Garissa Municipal Board and then to individuals’ accounts.
The money was “withdrawn in cash by county officials associated with the Governor and used for some projects which could not be verified on the ground.”
Under KUSP, the World Bank is undertaking a Sh23 billion five-year infrastructure project being implemented in 45 counties, with the exemption of Nairobi and Mombasa.
Besides KUSP, the World Bank has been pumping cash in North Eastern counties, a region historically under-served and performing below the national average on development indicators.
EACC officials said a number of county bosses were targeted for investigation, with some already grilled over skewed recruitment, abuse of office, breach of procurement and financial laws, conflict of interest and money laundering.
EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak said they would pursue corrupt governors.
“Their attempts to muzzle and intimidate the media is a waste of time. EACC is not on a witch-hunt mission but it is responding to the public outcry to clean the rot in the counties,” said Mbarak.
Korane has previously denied corruption allegations.