Kebs boss arrested over graft allegations

KEBs MD Bernard Njiraini when he appeared before the National Assembly Trade Committee at Continental House, Nairobi on March 10, 2020. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) Managing Director Bernard Njiraini was yesterday arrested by anti-graft detectives over allegations of corruption, putting his tenure at the agency in a precarious position.

Mr Njiraini had only served as Kebs boss for 15 months when he was arrested yesterday morning by detectives from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), who have been investigating corruption and fraudulent activities at the organisation.

Original documents

In a statement, EACC said he had been arrested over allegations of procurement irregularities and payment of bribes in respect of awards for tenders for provision pre-export conformity of goods, used motor vehicles, mobile equipment and spare parts by Kebs.

The EACC statement said it had on numerous occasions requested for original documents from the MD who “failed and/or refused to comply thereby continuously frustrating the timely conclusion of investigations”.

“This is with a view of obtaining the said documents and preferring charges against him for his contravention,” the commission said.

Njiraini becomes the fourth Kebs chief executive since 2012 to face accusations of corruption in what could herald his exit.

In 2012, the National Standards Council appointed Eva Oduor to take over as managing director taking over from Joseph Kosgei, whose appointment had been dodged by controversy.

Oduor’s stint was short lived. Then Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed appointed Charles Gichahi acting managing director to replace her when she was suspended over claims of gross misconduct in the annulled Mombasa Laboratory project.

Njiraini took over from Charles Ongwae, who is now facing charges of attempted murder and abuse of office.

Attempted murder

Ongwae and seven other senior Kebs officials and others from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) were charged with attempted murder and abuse of office after they approved the release of fertiliser suspected to have contained mercury. 

The fertiliser, which was imported from Morocco, was believed to have been sold in Narok and Eldoret.

Njiriani’s entry into Kebs in June last year raised disquiet within the agency following claims that the board was sidestepped in his appointment.