THE CURSE OF GRAFT! Committee probing NYS scam hits dead end

Efforts by a Parliamentary Committee to obtain information on suspected National Youth Service (NYS) payments from a law firm associated with Marakwet Senator, Kipchumba Murkomen, came to naught again on Thursday after one of the managing partners accused it of politicizing the issue.

The Singoei, Murkomen and Sigei (SMS) Co. Advocates accused members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of profiting from the very scandal it is investigating.

Hillary Sigei, the SMS Advocates managing partner came into the committee room, bearing none of the documents he had promised to bring among them bank statements detailing the payment transactions from the NYS.

The Committee chair, Eng. Nicholas Ngumbo, seemingly irritated by Mr Sigei for coming without the documents, fired the first question.

“So you came here to tell us why you did not bring them?” asked Gumbo.

Sigei had been directed to produce bank statements of the law firm since January 2013 to date, a land sale agreement and invoices for the Eldoret property it bought on behalf of Out Of The Box Solutions, a company that was awarded a contract by the Devolution and Planning Ministry but received payment from the National Youth Service.

He, however, denied reports that the law firm received the whole amount paid to Out Of Box Solutions by the Ministry.

“Out of the Box was paid Ksh 90 million. SMS was only paid Ksh 15 million. Has the rest of the money been followed?” asked the seemingly infuriated Sigei.

“Even if I lost ten cows and I found you with three, you cannot ask me why I have not followed the other seven,” responded committee member, John Mbadi.

“This committee has the powers of the High Court to compel production of documents, but it has no powers against the Constitution and the written law,” responded Sigei.

“If you have a problem with the Constitution, call for a referendum and pay for it,” interjected Mbadi.

The firm now suggests that the members of this committee investigating the scandal provide their own accounts as well as those of their businesses.

Murkomen, while speaking at a public rally in Iten on Thursday, December 15, said: “PAC is on a cover up mission for culprits. I challenge them to produce their statements for the period they have served.”

Sigei said that the law firm is operated by lawyers and “our legal practice cannot be used for political shadow boxing.”

The session ended pre-maturely after the committee members failed to get conclusive answers from Sigei.

The committee now says it is sifting through a complicated money trail to distinguish from among hundreds of companies that did business with NYS directly or indirectly, those that did legitimate from those that colluded to loot billions of taxpayers’ money, but with regard to SMS, the committee appears to have hit a brick wall.

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Story By Sylvia Chebet
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