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ELECTION 2022

Governor Ojaamong in trouble for Sh8m tender loss

WESTERN
By Ignatius Odanga | Jul 4th 2018 | 4 min read
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojamong during a press briefing at a hotel in Budalangi where he refuted claims from the DPP over allegation of embezzlement of funds from the county government. [Duncan Ocholla/Standard]

Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong was early yesterday a man under siege.

The second-term governor woke up a wanted man after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji gave the green light for his arrest over Sh8 million paid to a waste management company after unlawfully awarding a tender.

The arresting officers camped at the governor’s office as their colleagues milled around his residence in Busia town, only to come out empty, as the governor was nowhere to be found. No one appeared to know the whereabouts of Ojaamong, whose phone remained switched off for the better part of the morning.

But a few minutes after noon, the governor’s handlers sent word to journalists about a Press briefing in Budalang’i.

And when he emerged to address the media, the visibly shaken governor declared that he was not afraid to be arrested, and termed the corruption accusations against him baseless.

Entire saga

“We shall emerge untainted in the entire saga because no money was lost as the DPP alleges. On the contrary, the county government benefited a lot more from the said deal.”

Ojaamong further claimed that Mr Haji’s approval of his prosecution was politically instigated, adding that the abuse of office charges leveled against him were filed in court in 2014, and that he had been vindicated.

“There is a political hand in this whole thing. Why prosecute me four years later, after the court vindicated me on the same matter?” he posed.

The governor remained adamant that no money was lost, saying the Sh8 million was paid to Madam R Enterprise after the county government approved it.

“The agreement I signed was for Sh8 million and not Sh20 million. The county never sent any money to Germany. We did business in Kenya at a bank in Kisumu.”

Ojaamong was responding to a statement the DPP sent to newsrooms on Monday, giving consent to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to arrest the governor and prosecute him for allegedly conspiring to commit an economic crime, abuse of office, engaging in a project without proper planning, and willful failure to comply with the law relating to management of funds.

Haji noted that after going through the file that was submitted to him by the anti-graft agencies, he had established that Ojaamong had a case to answer.

“Upon independent review of the file, I am satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to warrant prosecutions,” read the DPP’s statement.

The DPP said Ojaamong unilaterally signed an MoU between Madam R Enterprise and the county in a solid waste management project without following the law, leading to loss of Sh8 million.

But Ojaamong said due process was followed and maintained that he was ready to be investigated together with other nine county officials implicated.

“The county benefited immensely from the agreement with Madam R Enterprise. I am as clean as snow. The matter has been politicised but I will be vindicated after investigations since I won the same case in 2014.”

The governor said he was yet to receive communication from either the DPP or EACC, adding that he would cooperate when called upon so the truth could come out.

“We got value for what we invested in Madam R Enterprise. Any professional investigating agency will know what we got is bigger as a county. The matter was brought to court and we defeated EACC because there was no evidence. But some politicians are pushing EACC to prosecute me.”

Ojaamong said he did not fear being arrested or facing prosecution if there was enough evidence linking him to corruption.

“She (proprietor of Madam R Enterprise) took over the management of the casual workers and solid waste management as we waited for a feasibility study to be done. Madam R Enterprise wrote the report and that was all. Her contribution was more than ours.”

EACC detectives

Earlier, Ojaamong was said to have been headed to Kisumu to present himself before the regional offices of the EACC detectives, but failed to show up.

At around noon, lawyers said to represent the governor and the nine other officials likely to be charged alongside the county chief trooped into the EACC offices.

They engaged detectives in a meeting that lasted several hours, with one of the detectives telling The Standard, in confidence,  that the advocates had gone to the offices to inquire about the state of the case against their clients.

The detective confided that the lawyers represented some of the suspects who were listed by the DPP, but not Ojaamong.

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