Oparanya faces prosecution over Sh56.74 million graft probe

Former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya. [Mumo Munuve, Standard]

The Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) has forwarded 27 files to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), recommending prosecution of government officials over alleged misuse of Sh623 million.

In its investigation report signed by EACC Chair David Oginde and Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak, covering the period from October 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023, the agency wants the DPP to prosecute the culprits.

Out of the 27 files forwarded, 24 were recommended for prosecution and three for closure.

The DPP has, so far, approved seven files, including the prosecution of former Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, and 14 other files have been returned for further investigations, three have been closed, and three others are awaiting DPP’s advice.

EACC implicated Oparanya in alleged irregular award of more than Sh56.74 million tender to contractors associated with him during the financial years 2013/2014 to 2021/2022.

“The companies associated with the former governor had been sending kickbacks to Oparanya through his proxies,” reads the report.

EACC states that the six companies were awarded 60 contracts, and they received payments amounting to Sh2.25 billion. 

“It was further established that from each of the companies, Oparanya received a benefit directly and indirectly, and part of the money was used to purchase a property,” EACC said.

Further, the anti-graft agency claims that the former governor irregularly entered into a tenancy agreement with the Kakamega county government for the lease of land, and a building was erected for Sh9.2 million.

EACC urged the DPP to charge Oparanya, his spouse, county officials, some of the directors of the companies and the lawyer who was involved in the transaction.

The anti-graft agency recommended that the former governor should be charged with one count of conspiracy to commit corruption, 11 counts of conflict of interest, two counts of abuse of office and five counts of money laundering.

“On December 18, 2023, the DPP returned the file and concurred with the commission’s recommendations for prosecution,” reads the report.

EACC forwarded a file with seven charges against Taita Taveta county assembly Speaker, the clerk, 21 MCAs and four officers over alleged misappropriation of Sh7 million in public funds.

The 27 county assembly officials allegedly travelled to the Marijani Hotel in Zanzibar in November 2022 for a bonding tour and used public funds without following proper public finance guidelines.

EACC said that some delegates were paid excess per diem they were not entitled to while others were paid, yet they had not travelled for various reasons.

Out of Sh6,181,433, the county recovered Sh2,215,550, but the outstanding Sh3,943,033 is yet to be recovered.

In the case, the DPP has approved charges of abuse of office, uttering false documents, false accounting and wilful failure to comply with the law charges against the Clerk and the Deputy Speaker.

Kwale county head of treasury, an accountant and a hospital administrator will be charged with four counts of conflict of interest, uttering false documents, deceiving principal and fraudulent procurement.

EACC claimed that the head of treasury used his two companies to trade with the county government and were awarded ten tenders to supply sanitation materials, food, office supplies, and appliances. 

“Further investigations showed that the two companies; Rome Investments and Chilongola Limited, were paid a sum of Sh44,919,341 and Sh4,007,943 respectively,” reads the report.

EACC also recommended charges against a driver who allegedly forged academic documents to apply for the position at REREC and worked in the company for three months from April 1, 2022.

The 14 files returned to EACC for further investigations include an inquiry into procurement irregularities for the construction of Kinanie Leather Industrial Park water supply in Kitui for over Sh292.77 million.

After investigations, EACC established that 14 companies had submitted bids for the tender, which was eventually irregularly awarded to Perma.

EACC wants the DPP to charge the CEO of Tanathi Water Works Development Agency and managers of construction, finance and accounts, among others, with nine charges of fraud and abuse of office, among others.

DPP also referred for further investigations, a procurement irregularity of Sh51.35 million at Embakasi North constituency.

“The MP used his office to award tenders to his children and close associates. The tenders were allegedly for construction of classrooms, event hosting and roadwork,” reads the report.

EACC claimed that the MP received Sh10 million, either directly or indirectly from the companies associated with the daughter and other close associates. 

However, the DPP suspended the five counts of unlawful acquisition of public property and a count of abuse of office against the MP, until the matter is investigated further.

Three cases, including irregular award of Sh9.059 million tender by officers of Bomas of Kenya in general insurance for years 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 are awaiting DPP’s advice.

Upon recommendation by EACC, DPP approved the closure of three files comprising an investigation that revealed Sh6.39 million was regularly paid in contracts for erecting a perimeter wall for a secondary school in Likoni CDF.