‘Missing millions’ return to haunt Munya’s re-election bid
Meru Governor and Council of Governors Chairman, Peter Munya, has dismissed as insufficient a petition seeking to have him blocked from defending his seat or contesting for any political seat in the August 8 General Election.
Munya says only the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has the power to bar him from contesting.
He further argues that the High Court has no power to hear the matter on alleged complaints of corruption, misappropriation of funds, abuse of office and other forms of economic crime –offences he argued can only be reported by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
Through his lawyer, Okong’o Omogeni, Munya told Justice Alfred Mabeya that the Constitution of Kenya 2010 is categorical that only IEBC can bar him from contesting for a political seat.
Munya was responding to a petition by a Mr Isaiah Kithinji, a businessman and voter in Meru, who wants Munya barred from contesting over allegations that he has failed to discharge his mandate thus violating the law.
Mr Kithinji, in his petition that has listed IEBC, EACC, the Auditor General and the Secretary General of the Party of National Unity as interested parties, says EACC has failed to exercise its statutory mandate under Section 13 of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act on the financial probity as per the Auditor General’s report thus exposing the county to financial mismanagement and corruption overseen by Munya.
The petitioner further argues that the respondent (Munya) has violated the provision of the Constitution, County Government Act, Leadership and Integrity Act and the Public Finance and Management Act.
Mr Kithinji argues that between January 1 and June 30, 2013, Meru County, under the leadership of Munya, failed to take over the county councils of Nyambene, Meru Central together with the former Municipal Councils of Meru and Maua thus violating the Transitional Authority Act, Section 30 (2) (a), (b), 30 (3) (f) and Circular No. MLG/1333/TY/52 of 2013.
He further argues that the failure to oversee the closure of the defunct county councils and municipal councils bank accounts as per the deadline of the Transition Authority and have the said accounts balances transferred to the County Government Revenue Account by February 28, 2013 was exposed to plunder and misuse as revenue was deposited into the accounts which were unauthorized thus violating Section 30 of the County Government Act.
The petitioner further argues that the County Government of Meru did not consolidate or maintain a debtors’ register.
“Debtors taken over from the four defunct local authorities under the Meru County totaling Ksh 414,655,796 were also not validated to establish their authenticity,” argues the petitioner.
He argues that the County Government of Meru acquired four motor vehicles valued at Ksh 29,155,934 during the months of May and June 2013 but the logbooks were not obtained from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
According to the petitioner, the County Government opened bank accounts for each sub county where revenue collected was to be deposited. The accounts were opened on April 19, 2013 but revenue collected prior to this date amounting to Ksh 101,223,559 was deposited in the defunct councils’ bank accounts.
“The former Municipal Council of Meru operated six bank accounts which had a total balance of Ksh 40,211,054 as at February 28, 2013. However, the defunct Local Authority did not close the bank accounts as required by the County Governments Public Finance Management Transition Act, 2013,” argues Mr Kithinji.
“Although funds totaling to Ksh 25,361,689 were subsequently transferred to the County Revenue Account in June, 2013 from three bank accounts, they were not closed, and it was also not explained why funds held in Xmas Fund Account were not transferred to County Revenue Account.”
According to the Auditor General’s report, which Mr Kithinji cites extensively, in the 2013-2014 Financial Year, Meru County prepared a budget of Ksh 5,681,680,382 and although the sum of Ksh 2,892,587,326 was budgeted for application on development expenditure during the year, only Ksh 650,000,000 was actually spent thus resulting to underutilization of funds totaling Ksh 2,242,587,326, reasons for failure to absorb the funds were not given.
“The unutilized amount of Ksh 2,242,587,326 differed with the available credit balance of Ksh 18,833,775 in the development bank Account No 1000170352 (Central Bank) as at June 30, 2014 by Ksh 2,223,753,451. No explanation for the difference was given by the County Government Management.
The actual total receipts of Ksh 5,311,634,915 fell short of the estimated target of Ksh 5,681,680,382 by Ksh 370,045,467 during the period under review. The variance was not explained.
In the same financial year, Ksh 9,258,004 was banked in the four Meru County Revenue Accounts as at March 31, 2014 and instead of being transferred to main County Revenue Fund maintained at the Cooperative Bank Meru as per Transition Authority Letter, the amount was irregularly withdrawn from the respective bank accounts and used for undisclosed reasons.
The petitioner further argues that in the 2013-2014 Financial Year, the county awarded a contract for supply of nets and curtains worth Ksh 3,441,240 and Ksh 4,356,000 respectively for Meru Teaching and Referral Hospital.
“However, although the firm was the lowest bidder, the County used Request For Quotation (RFQ) method instead of open tender contrary to the threshold matrix set by Legal Notice No. 106 of 18 June, 2013 which limits requests for quotation method to procurements not exceeding Ksh 2,000,000.”
He further argues that only the curtains were included in the request for quotations and not the nets. The Auditor General said that it was not possible to ascertain how the County paid Ksh 3,441,240 in respect to nets which were not quoted for.
“During the 2013/2014 Financial Year, the county government contracted an insurance firm to offer enhanced medical insurance cover at a contract sum of Ksh 31,646,134. In 2014/2015, the contract was renewed and the firm was paid Ksh 139,872,398. The increase of Ksh 108,226,266 or 342% was attributed to increase of county staff. Although the original contract provided for a renewal for up to three years, the county should have used the open tender method to procure the medical insurance as the new contract variation of 342% far exceeded the 25% variation allowed by Section 31 (e) of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005 and Article 227 of the Constitution.”
Mr Kithinji further argues that the “County Government requested the Salaries and Remuneration Commission for payments of extraneous allowances to seven security officers attached to the Governor and the Deputy Governor. In response, the SRC advised that additional information such as cadre of the staff involved as well as nature, scope, and circumstance under which they work be forwarded for consideration.”
He adds: “However, this letter was not responded to. Interestingly, and against this background, the seven officers were paid a total of Ksh 1,011,150 for the period April to December 2013 without any approval from the Commission.”
The petitioner further accuses Munya of appointing county officers without following due process of the law and guided by favoritism, ulterior motives and disregarded the employment of deserving and qualified candidates for the jobs, thus contravening the County Public Service Board mandate and violating the Constitution.
He wants the court to bar Munya from presenting his nomination papers to IEBC saying that his actions have brought ridicule and mockery to the office of the Governor by his conduct.
He also wants Munya barred from contesting for public office arguing that he has failed to carry out his duties of his office in a manner that maintains public confidence in the integrity of the Office of the Governor of Meru County.
Mr Kithinji also argues that Mr Munya has used his office to unlawfully or wrongfully enrich himself.
Munya says that the petition lacks in merit since he has never been tried by any court of law or found guilty and the petition is a nullity and political wars extended to court forums.
He further argues that granting the petitioner’s request was unconstitutional and will lock him out of the set timelines to comply with electioneering calendar and bar him from participating in the General Election.
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