Governor Cheboi faces impeachment amid audit queries

Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A petition seeking to have Baringo Governor Benjamin Cheboi impeached has been forwarded to the Assembly legal team for consideration.

Baringo County Assembly Clerk Winnie Chemase said the petition received on April 16 was forwarded to the legal team who will advise on the way forward.

Chemase noted that the team will advise whether the petition will be tabled in the assembly or referred back to the drafter.

“The petition was referred to the legal team who will advise whether it will proceed to the assembly or be referred back to the drafter. We can’t say much for now,” said Chemase when called to confirm the status of the matter.

Jacob Kiplagat, a petitioner, claims the governor has failed to discharge his duties.

Kiplagat alleges that there are rampant cases of degradation of the procurement and tendering process of projects in the county.

He claims that some people have continued to frustrate contractors and suppliers, and many have had their property auctioned while others have sunk into depression after the county government failed to pay them their dues.

Kiplagat says the Auditor General has raised adverse reports against the county government on misappropriation of funds such as illegal purchase of vehicles, and failure to procure critical medical equipment including CT-Scan, and X-ray machines, among others.

The petitioner argues that he has exhausted all the available avenues to have the issues raised in his petition resolved but to no avail.

Kiplagat wants the assembly to investigate the governor to determine his suitability to continue holding office, citing alleged blatant violation of the law.

He says the county assembly should find that the governor has continued to ignore calls to put his government in order.

Kiplagat argues that the assembly has a responsibility to safeguard the interests of the people of Baringo.

The petition comes at a time when the Auditor General has raised concern over the continued misappropriation of public funds in the county.

Auditor General Nancy Gathungu in the 2022/2023 Financial Year audit report raised concern over the expenditure of Sh445.2 million for construction of roads. 

The audit further revealed the county's under-collection of single business permit revenue. As per the report, the county government projected to collect Sh41,544,578 regarding a single business permit. The county managed to collect Sh36,458,010 resulting in a revenue shortfall of Sh5,086,568.

The audit revealed that the County had 5,660 registered businesses in the year under review. However, only 2,749 were issued with business permits indicating that 2,911 businesses were operating without business permits.

Gathungu also noted irregularities in procurement.

The county government spent Sh218.1 million for the use of goods and services. Sh103 million as per the audit was incurred on the purchase of pharmaceuticals, non-pharmaceuticals, vaccines, and acaricides that were procured using a framework agreement.

The report also flagged irregularity in the procurement of drugs and medical supplies.

The auditor said Sh81,651,708 was used to procure pharmaceuticals for various hospitals in the county from Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) without an established framework hence contravening Section 4(1) c of the Kemsa Act.