Governor Nyaribo sacks health executive over alleged drugs theft, embezzlement

Dr Timothy Ombati when he took the oath of office as Health CEC. [Governors Press]

Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo has sacked his Health minister Timothy Ombati over claims of theft of drugs and misappropriation of funds.

Dr Ombati had been in charge of the docket for a year before he was shown the door. Nyaribo suspended the official a month ago.

The governor accused the health executive of being involved in the embezzlement of public funds set aside for the purchase of hospital supplies.

He also accused Ombati of giving him misleading information regarding the procurement of various supplies and failing to be accountable.

The governor said Ombati had lied to him that the county had procured medicines and non-pharmaceutical supplies worth Sh21 million as part of a total of Sh36 million that was budgeted for.

"I was shocked to learn that was not the position. This was after I personally verified the information the Ombati gave me from the facilities that had reportedly received the drugs and other supplies that had been procured as per the minister's claims," Nyaribo said.

The governor said he learnt about the issue two months ago when the county government was forced to buy drugs from nearby chemists to treat students after a disease broke out at a school in Nyamira North.

"He misled me into believing he had procured drugs which he never did," Nyaribo said.

Ombati's sacking was communicated to him via WhatsApp. He was accordingly instructed to pick a printed copy of the sack letter from the governor’s office.

Last month, members of the county assembly raised concerns over the distribution of drugs worth Sh30 million.

Through the chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee Duke Masira, the MCAs said the drugs that had been procured for county public hospitals were being distributed to health facilities without documentation.

Because of this, the MCAs said they feared there could be a scheme to steal the drugs.

Masira also questioned the delay in the distribution of the drugs more than a month after the process was flagged off by the governor.

"There is a lot that the people of Nyamira don't know about the drugs and their distribution. A month after the governor launched the distribution of the drugs, some health facilities are yet to receive their portions. And even when distribution was done, there are no documents showing the quantities received and the monetary value where they have been delivered,” Masira said.

But Dr Ombati has denied the accusations saying he never committed any of the wrongs he is accused of.

“It was good serving the great county! For records' sake, I never stole money meant for drugs. Drugs were delivered as ordered although delayed due to anti-government protests by the opposition that rocked the country two months ago. The truth will vindicate me. All will be well," Dr Ombati said.

Ombati had earlier told the Ward Reps the distribution had been done in accordance with the law.

"The supplier of the drugs had security concerns, and we had to heed to the same. All the facilities have received their assigned drugs, and all the necessary documents processed,” Dr Ombati said.

The doctor was elevated to head the county health docket after Nyaribo's victory in the 2022 elections. Ombati had served, for about one year, as a medical superintendent at the Nyamira County Referral Hospital.

Initially, Ombati was a medical doctor at the facility.

Ombati was the youngest minister in Nyaribo's cabinet.