The bitter truth about Public Accounts Committee and NYS scandal probe
Last Thursday, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) released a report that recommended among other things, fresh investigation into the National Youth Service (NYS) scandal that led to the loss of Ksh1.8 billion.
The report also called for a lifestyle audit on former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, investigation into the alleged involvement of Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge and prosecution of Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen over the NYS scandal.
The probe begun after the committee felt that investigation carried out by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) on the matter was shoddy, and from their confidence, we knew we were up for a real treat and a solution to the puzzle of who stole the NYS money was in sight.
The media also played up our expectations with details of how the money was stolen and supposed links to former CS Waiguru taking up almost half the time slotted for prime news and literally occupying the front pages of Newspapers.
All through, Waiguru insisted that she was innocent and blamed certain powerful forces in and out of government for orchestrating a plan to fix her in the scandal, due to her decision to stop further theft at the Ministry.
Amidst all the back-and-forth, and accusations and counter-accusations played out in the media, we had hoped that PAC would use all the mechanisms at its exposure to unearth the truth about NYS and give us names of those who stole the money.
It should not be shocking therefore that Kenyans are agitation and disappointment in PAC for their haphazard work.
After almost two years, it is absurd that the committee in its report (in so many words) says nothing about who really is responsible for the NYS scandal.
Those who keenly followed the proceedings by the Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo-led committee last year will agree that there is no way the eventual report was drawn from the probe that we all saw on TV.
Was PAC just drawing allowances while chasing a wild goose? I think so, otherwise we would have had concrete evidence by now that proves beyond reasonable doubt that Waiguru actually engineered and benefited from the graft.
Was it just political machinations?
Some members of the Opposition coalition CORD (renamed NASA) in the committee seemed to have been under clear instructions, from the start, to pin the NYS scandal on Waiguru, and may have been working their way up by trying to find a shred of evidence to complete their master plan.
It appears that the Opposition members had begun the probe with a predetermined conclusion of how the report should be like and were not in any way interested in unearthing the truth, but fishing for information to validate their expectations.
It must be very frustrating and embarrassing for the members as the report, released last week, only stinks of malice and spite and unclouded their failed attempt to blind Kenyans from the real fraudsters by focusing the laser on Kirinyaga governorship aspirant Anne Waiguru, while the money is “chewed away”.
This is where it all began
After suspecting fraudulent transactions at the NYS, the then Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru invited the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to investigate the suspicions which turned out to be true.
It is during this time that she was also able to stop a further loss of Ksh826 million and went ahead to sack 21 senior ministry officials over the scandal, including Principal Secretary Peter Mangiti.
To ODM leader Raila Odinga, the events at the Ministry of Devolution were a fodder leading him to launch incessant calls for Waiguru’s resignation, which she eventually did.
PAC’s move to term investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) as shambolic and begin their own fresh probe seems to have been the master piece in a larger scheme of things as they sought to solidify their assumptions.
In the report, PC recommends a lifestyle audit on Waiguru, and fresh investigation into NYS scandal, indicating they have found nothing to implicate her.
By disregarding the EACC investigation (which had confirmed Waiguru’s innocence) and launching their own probe, PAC seemed to have trusted their ability to do a better job than the anti-graft agency and find faults that EACC missed.
Why then are they recommending that the same EACC, which cleared Waiguru in November last year, carry out another investigation into the scandal, yet they have the powers to declare her guilty if they found evidence to ascertain the claims.
Accept, apologise and move on
It is only fair for the Public Accounts Committee to publicly admit that they have not found anything to implicate Waiguru in the scandal, apologise to Kenyans for wasting their time and money and step down from their positions because they have failed us.
Curiously, the lifestyle audit recommendation comes two weeks after ODM leader Raila Odinga asked for details of the same in response to a suit where Waiguru has sued him for defamation.
This begs the question, are ODM MPs in PAC just trying to please their party leader, to legitimize his requests, or possibly make an attempt to intimidate Waiguru into withdrawing the case? Because it seems like it.
What is the role of PAC
In fact, the role of PAC should have been to interrogate the Auditor General’s report which in itself had no mention of Waiguru anywhere.
Let us assume for a moment that they found a document giving Cabinet Secretaries powers to authorize financial transactions, would that document supersede the Constitution & Public Finance Management Law? Of course not!
The Constitution and the Public Finance Management Law is supreme in matters finance and where there is any contradiction in any laws, these two are upheld. Therefore, PAC’s fishing expedition was barely an exercise in futility.
Inconsistencies in PAC’s recommendations
Surprisingly, Deputy President William Ruto’s aide Farouk Kibet who openly admitted to having received Ksh1.5 million from key suspect Josephine Kabura was conspicuously missing in the report, with the committee recommending that Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen be charged for a similar offense.
In a letter to PAC last November, Kibet admitted to having received the money from Kabura, contradicting his earlier statement that he had received Ksh2 million from Ben Gethi, another key suspect in the scandal.
Sing’oei, Murkomen & Sigei Advocates, a law firm where Murkomen is a co-partner received Ksh15 million from Out Of The Box Solutions, a firm owned by Gethi.
That Murkomen would be implicated in the scandal while Farouk Kibet is left out, yet they both committed a similar offense is beyond comprehension.
Just like Kibet, ODM Director of Elections and Suna East M Junet Mohamed, who is alleged to have also benefited from the NYS proceeds, was also shaded from prosecution.
Zeigham Enterprises Ltd, a firm which has Junet as one of its directors is said to received Ksh21.8 million from NYS for the supply of goods while his sister’s firm Fahaza Ltd also bagged a contact worth Ksh51.8 million putting the total amount received by firms linked to Junet to Ksh73.6 million.
Junet is a member of PAC and a confidant of Raila Odinga.
Neither Junet nor his sister were summoned before the committee, or asked to make written submissions.
Another ludicrous recommendation was the call for investigations into Central Bank Governor Patrick Njoroge over the NYS scandal.
The committee wants the governor investigated for allegedly failing to prevent movement of stolen funds through the banking systems and to determine whether he should be charged for failing to advise the government on the abnormal transactions in the Devolution Ministry.
How would it have been possible, for instance, for the Governor to know every time money is moved from one account to another, or withdrawn? This is clearly not in his job description since he has no authority over ministry payments.
Time for a new Public Accounts Committee
Reports of infighting within PAC, and claims that some leaders were only out to implicate Waiguru for political reasons puts into question the credibility of the committee and its findings.
Even within PAC itself there are reported cases of corruption with some members being accused of receiving bribe to the tune of Ksh40 million to water down the report and leave out some names.
To protect the integrity of PAC and ensure it regains public confidence, we need a complete overhaul with fresh leadership and membership.
We need a Public Accounts Committee whose members understand basic laws and financial principles not one made of witch hunters & rent seekers.
By Calvin Tamanda
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