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Citizen Weekly

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Mafia-like cartel takes over Nyamira government operations

Interestingly, all the crooks are fully employed at the governor’s office as political advisers, revenue collectors or even county coordinators yet most do not have academic papers. They do not spare some MCAs and county executives. On some occasions they grace functions with donations and speeches claiming to have been sent by the governor to deliver.
The goons are a law unto themselves. They dictate policy issues instead of leaving it to elected leaders, but claim to be talking on behalf of the governor. They virtually, illegally control key functions of the county government including dictating operations and decisions at the county public board which has lately been suspended and the county parliament. They extort money from job seekers, most who end up not getting the promised jobs.
Also deeply involved in this mafia cartel and its corruption schemes are directors of the Nyamira Deluxe, bus company who hail from the county and belong to the governor’s immediate clan. Also in it is EACC official Charles Rasugu who is based in Kisumu town office and another locally based NIS spy a one Nyaga who are allegedly on big retainers to offer protection.
Surprisingly, all this rot is taking place yet Joseph Kiangoi, the former area MP, serves as the governor’s chief legal adviser.
The looting spree started at the inauguration of counties. The initial money given by the Transitional Authority was allegedly embezzled by the governor with the help of the first county government officers deployed by the TA. It is claimed that the governor corrupted the TA deployed interim county secretary James Ntabo to make fraudulent contracts and tenders that led to misappropriation of Sh61,592,200 TA gave specifically for infrastructure development, civil works and purchase of the county parliament hansard, and over half of normal revenue collected from ordinary taxation and rates in the arrangement of former Nyamira county authorities were embezzled.
At the governor’s behest, Ntabo, then on secondment from the provincial administration reportedly contracted and signed for projects among them-Ngisa, Gianchore, Achoki and Magnifica each at Sh2 million. Chellen at Sh2,701,719, Saumo at Sh8,496,302, Masosa at Sh6,880,546 and Citrolam at 27,914,460 on June 28, 2013 without consulting the then county accounting officer who was interim principal officer, finance. He also committed the Nyamira county government to credit against government financial regulations and procedures, it is claimed. This. it is alleged, was because the contracts were to be merely used to steal part of the money in cahoots with contractors. When accounting for these expenditures became complicated with the headquarters raising queries and threatening tough action against culprits, instead of Nyagarama reporting Ntabo, he allegedly worked with him to cook accounts books and reports and covered up the theft.
Nyagarama’s favourite daughter Emily, it is claimed, dashed for the same TA grant and developed fraudulent vouchers for Sh22 million to service fictitious functions most which the county government has no mandate over. She would later allegedly pocket another Sh17 million fraudulently billed for fake renovations. It is only the fraction that remained that was utilised to pay salaries for the employees at the new county government.
On the revenue collection front the governor’s new hirelings ensured that of the previously average monthly collections totaling Sh 14 million, only an average of Sh6 million, and fluctuating downwards, is being remitted while the other half they keep swindling and sharing amongst themselves and the governor.
Having successfully tested his embezzlement skills at inception, it is alleged, the governor finetuned his mafia infrastructure quickly and by the time the first real allocation of Sh3.3 billion landed, their appetite was whetted. Officially, 30pc of the budget monies is to go to development projects while 70pc is to cater for recurrent expenditure.
However, much of the development funds are consumed on through con tricks for which an elaborate fraudulent documentation to cover for and cheat arrangement is in place. To date there is no single project to have been started nor completed in the county despite many official documents in the records telling otherwise and hundreds of millions of shillings paid out.
It has now been established that the payment documents and others are for ghost projects and others cooked up for already existing projects done through other programs like CDF, former Local Authority Councils (LATF) and even by donors and CBOs. Such projects include: schools, health facilities, boreholes, polytechnics, bridges and Artificial Insemination points for farmers.
There also exists a parallel arrangement where many ghost seminars and workshops (using fake names of those in attendance) are being paid for with a lot of money being swindled. Insiders report that this has been facilitated by county planning officer Paul Onyango with the help of senior officers in department of Devolution in Nairobi and managers of hotels and resorts who take hefty kickbacks to issue cooked-up receipts for bookings and use of conference facilities. This has the blessings of the governor because he pockets a bigger part of the loot, it is alleged.
In the mix of all the cooking of financial documents and fraudulent payments are bank officials, mainly of the Kenya Commercial Bank in Nyamira. These officials have strangely allowed huge cash withdrawals for payments by the county government in these looting transactions. Note that single cash withdrawals have been as much as Sh10 million a day.
 This has become so rampant that MCAs and junior officers joined the fray to “try their luck”. Unfortunately, the resultant financial windfall for them from their own congames have spoilt them and many are indulging in conspicuous consumption including  buying new cars and investing in Nyamira and in neighbouring Kisumu, Kisii, Eldoret and even in Nairobi.
 True to the saying there is no honour amongst thieves, a recent nasty fallout with the KCB manager at Nyamira Pius Oburi over sharing of loot saw the extermination of Oburi in cold blood in his house within the quarters of the Nyamira Police lines. He was trailed from a meeting in Kisumu.
He had disagreed with county government officers and a senior EACC official based in Kisumu who is also a senior operative in this cartel, it is claimed. Despite reports indicating that an armed gang stormed in and ransacked his house before brutally killing him, there was no police intervention and no culprits have ever been nabbed to answer for the gangland style murder associated with notorious drugs and mafia cartels in South America and other crime infested societies.
Sources claimed that the felled bank manager was at the centre of bitter disagreement over a Sh30 million insurance scandal at the county that had sparked off a major crisis in the county government and led to the sacking of the immediate former speaker to the county assembly. The deceased was quickly replaced by another from the same area in what appears to be a negotiated deal to revive the insurance scandal.
 Reports have it that, though the speaker and the bank manager paid dearly for the insurance scandal, the  big fish behind it and who should have been made to answer are the governor himself and his favourite daughter, Emily who is said to have interests in the insurance company.
Fully converted and let loose to propel the embezzlement spree, county ministers are excelling in the looting.
The housing minister who is governor’s close relative recently allegedly forged documents for Sh3 million for a non-existent seminar and pocketed the loot. He also cooked financial documents for Sh5 million for renovation of a non-existent house in Keroka township and pocketed, it is claimed.
The public works minister a one Osoro has allegedly perfected the art of cooking bills of quantities for projects. In many instances he has allegedly produced multiple BQs for same projects to facilitate duplicate payments. Most of the payments are also inflated. He is the architect of an arrangement for siphoning money using cooking of documents to facilitate payments for already complete and paid-for buildings, most which were completed by the former Nyamira county council, sources claim. A notable such project is Gianchore Health Centre, which by the time of taking over was 60pc complete and only required Sh300,000 to finish. But he reportedly documented it as a new project and had the county government paid Sh3.9 million. It is said he tarmacked 100 metres including a packing yard at the governor’s residence and paid an overly inflated figure of Sh5 million for it.
Other projects under Osoro that have been used like Gionchore and were inherited from Latf including Bogwendo Dispensary whcih was 90pc complete, Nyantaro Secondary School (70pc) , Kegogi Dispensary (50pc), Nyaiguta Dispensary (85pc), Magongo Youth Polytechnic (60pc) , Riakimai Health Centre (80pc) , Kiang’inda Health Centre (10pc), Esiagi Dispensary and Maternity (90pc), Nyaige Dispensary (65pc)  and Eturungi Dispensary (60pc). All of them were received at handing over from the former Local Authorities at the indicated stages of construction but Osoro’s office allegedly showed they are new projects being built from scratch and also inflated the costs which they would move and complete and the extra money needed.
Recently the Nyamira fishing department was buying fingerlings worth Sh15 million but the money was stolen using fake documents before payments were issued to the suppliers. The officer in charge, a Mr Ruto, did not complain.
The governor’s chief of staff, a one Ongaga who has joined the corruption regime and today conditions contractors to pay bribes, if not they lose out, it is claimed.
Employment at the county is slanted in favour of close immediate family relatives of the governor and close senior officials, residents claim. Members of Nyagarama’s wider clan are bitter as they have been sidelined in jobs while he lavishes only a section and relatives of the owners of the Deluxe Bus.
 The county officer in charge of finances Phillip Machuki, it is said, is not qualified for his demanding job. He is closely helped by the county planning officer Onyango who always manipulates him.
They are preferred for their willingness to facilitate fraudulent payments and operationalising forged financial documents. Onyango is said to be the link to the senior officer in Nairobi who helps in facilitating payments, by allegedly writing permission letters, for ghost seminars.
In the medical services sector the Nyamira medical superintendent Dr Basweti opted to quit as he resisted pressure to endorse and sign a fraudulent deal to purchase and install obsolete and untested equipment.
The most glaring case was for a CT-Scan machine at an inflated cost of Sh43 million. It was procured outside the rules and regulations and he questioned and objected. He resigned but they purported to sack him. He is bitter and to date he is yet to hand over.
Between August and October, Sh20 million was embezzled and allegedly the governor’s share from the bank was picked in cash and taken to his house by the driver of the public works executive driver  by name Akama in the official car GK 881J.