Panafrican News Agency

Corruption clampdown dominates newspaper headlines in Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya (PANA) - Kenyan media headlines have been dominated this week by an anti-corruption clampdown in the corridors of justice.

These include the arrest of an influential politician, Governor Okoth Obado of Migori County, his spouse and four children and a plea bargain by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko in a US$3.4 million case.

The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Hajji approved Governor Obado's prosecution in the alleged embezzlement of US$680,000 of public funds.

He is accused of money laundering, conflict of interest and embezzlement of public funds, which were wired directly to some 13 companies linked to him, his brothers, spouse and children studying in Australia and Britain, according to the DPP.

The Governor spent the weekend in the Police detention facilities in Nairobi following his arrest. He pleaded not guilty to the charges on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Nairobi Governor Sonko, was allowed to enter into plea bargain negotiations with Government agencies in relation the US$3.4 million case facing him.

The hearing in his case is expected to kick off in September but the trial judge has agreed to have the suspect enter into plea bargain in exchange for lesser sentence.

The Nairobi Governor is facing economic crimes charges, unlawful acquisition of property and abuse of office in the US$3.4 million charge.

During the week, an anti-corruption court also ruled suspects in the multi-million-dollar National Youth Services (NYS) scandal should forfeit nearly US$1 million in cash and assets because the property belonged to the State.

The NYS funds, which were laundered through several banks to individuals and well-connected families and was one of the major scandals facing the Uhuru Kenyatta government in its first term, has dragged on in the courts.

High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi ruled members of the Ngirita family, which had received payments worth US$4 million on the same day from the NYS accounts, should forfeit nearly US$1 million worth of assets, including land, property and vehicles.

Mother Lucy Wambui Ngirita, daughter Phyllis Ngirita and son Jeremiah Gichina, better known as the Ngirita family, were ordered to forfeit the assets acquired using the payments from the NYS coffers.

The NYS, which provides artisanal trade courses to the youth to prepare them for the job-market after an initial period of paramilitary training, had gone into an expansive recruitment drive under President Kenyatta administration.

The funds were lost in the procurement of some non-existent supplies to the state agency.

The Daily Nation, in a story with the headline, "Uhuru orders swift KEMSA probe as Ngiritas lose assets in NYS case," reported how the President ordered an urgent probe into the loss of billions of shillings of donor funds through the purchase of medical supplies for the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA).

In his televised speech on 26 August, President Kenyatta ordered a probe into the misuse of nearly US$2 billion worth of public funds meant for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

While medical workers were on the brink of a national strike in protest of mounting cases of coronavirus infections as a result of the lack of the key protective gears, KEMSA said it was keeping US$600 million worth of personal protective equipment in its warehouses.

President Kenyatta on the same day ordered a reshuffle of top Health ministry personnel day after calling for a speedy probe into the procurement mess at the medical supplies agency only to abandon the changes shortly afterwards.

A Parliamentary committee in charge of health is currently carrying out a probe into the case.

On Friday, the Daily Nation, again in a story with the headline, "COVID scandal: KEMSA bosses blame Health PS Susan Mochache," reported that the Principal Secretary at the Ministry of Health wrote to direct which companies should be awarded the contracts to supply goods and at what price.

The probe is continuing but an earlier investigation by the NTV, also owned by the Nation Media Group, had exposed how connected cartels had commandeered donations received from the Jack Ma Foundation of China, to assist the fight against the pandemic and sold them to companies in Tanzania.

President Kenyatta said the investigation into the scandal should not spare anyone regardless of their status or political seniority.

Meanwhile, former Managing Director of the Kenya Ports Authority Daniel Manduku, who was also arrested on Thursday, was released on US$120,000 bail.

Manduku was accused of approving a contract worth US$100 million without following the guidelines set out for the approval and budgeting of such contracts under the procurement law.

He is accused of authorising an over-payment to the company contracted to build the concrete barriers for US$2.25 million which was not completed. -0- PANA AO/MA 29Aug2020