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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Vihiga clerk smoked out of Kisumu hideout after days on the run

Our Reporter

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission detectives finally arrested run-away Vihiga county assembly clerk Josephat Musambai  and locked him up at the Kisumu Central Police Station. Musambai was flushed out of a dingy hotel in Kisumu half-naked where he was found in bed with a nominated woman MCA. The detectives who had camped at the assembly looking for the ravenous clerk laid a trap after he cheated to be in Nairobi.
With the arrest of the clerk and the investigations going on all the way, the Vihiga assembly will be pronounced irreparably corrupt, and the outcome will have dire consequences to MCAs including being barred from participating in elections. It may even result in the dissolution of the assembly. EACC, sources say, will extend investigations to MCAs’ illegal allowances, conflict of interest in tenders and surcharge them. This has led to MCAs scampering for help from Musalia Mudavadi at a meeting the previous Sunday but the Amani leader reiterated that the law should take its course.
When the EACC sleuths pounced, Musambai was in a hide-out in Kisumu ostensibly attending the devolution conference but on a mission to bribe MCAs to rescind his suspension by the county assembly service board. What puzzled the cops was that a person who had been suspended by the board on April 18 was purporting to attend a conference and make allowance payments to MCAs. It is now expected that apart from the cases of fraud, abuse of office and corruption, Musambai will have to answer to false allegations to media that EACC was extorting him.
The cops were also puzzled that a suspended clerk had the audacity to use public money to fund an unauthorised trip to Singapore leading to the deportation of the deputy governor Caleb Amaswache.
Amaswache is also now a man under siege. Already, Ken Butiko, the man who emerged second to Akaranga is the one Akaranga is propelling to unseat his embattled deputy. Butiko was delivered to Akaranga courtesy of a political broker Khalid Njiraini.  Amaswache’s fate now hovers on a cliff hanger after word leaked out that signatures were being collected to send home packing. Butiko has of late won several road construction tenders including building of bridges in the county.
 Even more shocking was realising that the Governor Moses Akaranga had frozen the assembly accounts yet Musambai had accessed money to dish to MCAs. How he did that is a mystery unless the filthy rich clerk was laundering money stolen from the assembly.
The whole of Thursday, the fugitive clerk kept the detectives on a wild goose chase. But he finally made a mistake by calling his MCA girlfriend whom the detectives tracked to sleazy hotel and found the clerk in bed. The police were also led to the hideout when they stumbled on an SMS doing the rounds that Musambai was holed up in Kisumu dishing out bribes. The SMS said in part; “Majority UDF members led by UDF chairman Vihiga county Nickson Butia are at a hotel in Kisumu receiving bribe from suspended clerk in exchange of their solidarity support to him in the corruption cases against him”.
As proof that indeed Musambai had managed to bribe the MCAs to try to overturn his suspension and get bank accounts unfrozen, the UDF deputy chief whip Nathan Kamidi had earlier circulated an SMS for an urgent meeting at the assembly. “You are being invited to an urgent consultative meeting at the county assembly today at 3pm. The deputy speaker will chair the session,” read the message.
Sources say upon receiving a copy of the SMS, Musalia Mudavadi’s private secretary Kibisu Kabatesi asked about the agenda and why MCAs who were on allowances to be at the devolution conference in Kisumu were holding meetings in Vihiga. At this point, the venue was secretly changed to Perch Hotel, the nerve centre of bribes and where apparently the clerk has a standing order with management to house MCAs without tendering.
It later emerged that the agenda by the  MCAs was to overturn Musambai’s suspension and also force the governor to unfreeze the assembly accounts to facilitate usual theft. Perch Hotel is the favourite joint for Vihiga MCAs to fraudulently earn allowances for night outs in Kisumu on fake meetings, yet the clerk also pays the hotel directly for accommodation. It is here that they engage in all manner of orgies and where the clerk was nabbed naked.
However, things moved at a breakneck speed for the unsuspecting fugitive clerk and MCAs when the SMS was leaked to Kabatesi resulting in a terse warning from Mudavadi through the UDF secretary general Justus Kizito. “Dear Hon member; kindly note that the party does not condone corruption and will not support any person who engages in corrupt practices. Not that you will be held personally responsible for abetting corruption,” said Kizito in an SMS to all UDF MCAs. The “any person” was a coded reference to corruption allegations levelled at Musambai and the MCAs.
MCAs in Vihiga have become shady operators who use every trick to raid public coffers. In the latest saga they had argued that the suspension of the clerk and account freezing was “unprocedural”. At the bribe-taking meeting they had the audacity to “summon” the governor to the assembly on Friday claiming he had no power to freeze the assembly account. Governor Akaranga called their bluff by staying away as Musambai was being arrested. MCAs supposed to protect public resources were protecting Musambai though he is charged with a criminal offence and should have stepped aside under the public officers ethics Act.
The role of assembly speaker Dan Chitwah is questionable. As the chair of the assembly service board, it is not clear why he has been armtwisting the clerk. He neither convened a board meeting to act on criminal charges facing the clerk nor allowed debate on the matter. Instead, he took flight leaving the matter to the deputy speaker who is a cohort of the clerk. It is the deputy speaker who chaired the bribe-taking meeting at Perch Hotel. The suspension has only been possible while speaker enjoys a honeymoon in Seychelles after solemnising his marriage last weekend. The speaker’s role is made even more profound with rumours that he is also heavily compromised by the clerk to play safe. It is alleged he too benefits from illegal allowances.
Musambai was a besieged man since Easter when Weekly Citizen published an impassioned expose about his wicked ways. The storm was gathering in and it was just a matter of time before it began to rain stones.
First, Mudavadi’s warning to MCAs through his private secretary became the catalyst to EACC to act tough. Second, the assembly board then acted to suspend Musambai for among other crimes, corruption and insubordination for failing to advertise the position of deputy clerk, abuse of office in unethical tendering and for facing criminal charges.
Third, Akaranga followed by freezing assembly accounts to protect public money. Forth, civil societies were planning demonstrations against the county government. Musambai had defied the EACC to produce documents within five days and residents of Vihiga were wondering why EACC was treating him with kids’ gloves. Instead, Musambai began claiming that the sleuths were extorting money from him.