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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 19 April 2015

Vihiga assembly clerk bribes to remain in office despite graft charges

MCAs in Vihiga county assembly are reportedly protecting assembly clerk Josephat Musambayi to reap off the county of millions. Musambayi who has been charged in court with fraud in acquiring a dead man’s land is still in office courtesy of MCAs who are reluctant to suspend him as required under the Public Officers Ethics Act. A civil society, Mungoma ward Budget and Environment Forum confirms in letters to EACC and PPOA that indeed it is well-known MCAs receive kickbacks from both contractors and the clerk from fraudulent deals to look the other way. Our sources also reveal that UDF MCAs and its leadership in the assembly are the most corrupt.
Musambayi was among the county officials who were on the official trip to Singapore. They were led by deputy governor Caleb Amaswache. Word has it that the deputy governor arrived in Singapore drunk and was detained for hours by airport security. Musambayi is said to have favoured a nominated female MCA to accompany him during the visit.
“We know that the party leader has warned these MCAs against misusing their oversight role to steal public money. They are not listening.  Instead, they are competing for corruption favours. They live on hand-outs and illegal contracts from the governor, executives and the clerk. It is UDF MCAs who have refused to discuss the clerk because they are in his pocket,” complaints a UDF Vihiga county official, warning that chickens are coming home to roost in 2017.
He said Mudavadi would betray the people if he carried the MCAs into ANC. “I doubt that Mudavadi will want to carry this baggage to ANC in 2017. In any case, many of them are pledging support for Akaranga’s party already. But over Easter, Mudavadi sent his private secretary Kibisu Kabatesi to warn MCAs that corruption in the assembly is tainting Mudavadi’s image and asked them to deal decisively with the clerk. At the Sosa Cottages meeting, Kabatesi was categorical that the party leader will not condone corruption in the name of cooperation with the county executive for the good of the county,” he revealed. Kabatesi was, however, not available for comment.
Incidentally, Mungoma ward is the home of UDF majority chief whip Wycliffe Masini who replaced the rogue Chogo Abdallah in a purge early this year. But nothing has changed. Instead, together with speaker Daniel Chitwa, UDF majority leader Ogova and ODM minority leader and whip, and Masini who form the Vihiga Assembly Public Service Board have refused to discipline the clerk despite fragrant theft and insubordination.  Musambayi as board secretary is an employee of the board and its refusal to suspend him is due to being compromised in graft.
The speaker, who is the chairman of the board, complains that attempts to discipline the clerk have always met resistance from compromised MCAs. It is said that elected MCAs are the greatest culprits who receive daily handouts from the clerk.  “The speaker is a hostage. He is always threatened with impeachment by these rogue MCAs,” said a nominated MCAs who pleaded not to be named for fear of being dewhipped.
The clerk is under  investigations by the EACC on embezzlement yet he has not stepped down as required by law in the new purge on corruption and the MCAs have refused to discuss this matter. Letters requiring the clerk to provide the EACC with documents have not been acted upon despite reminders. EACC requests for voucher, tender, advert, contract and minutes documents in letters of January 21 2015 and February 3, 10, 2015, have gone unanswered by the clerk despite EACC warning the clerk that failure to comply in five days or he faces prosecution under Section 27(4) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act. This raises questions why the EACC regional office based in Kisumu is treating the clerk with kid gloves. This is unlike in Nairobi where Governor Evans Kidero immediately suspended five officials including the county secretary soon after they were charged in court over corruption.
EACC is accusing the clerk of corruption in single-sourcing without advertising Sh98 million and Sh15 million renovations for its facilities and Sh7 million hotel services scandals. In a letter dated March 10 2015, the Public Procurement Oversight Authority also wants Musambayi to account for embezzlement of millions of shillings in illicit award of contracts without a tender committee, budget allocations, advertising, minutes and contract agreements that falls out of due diligence. PPOA alleges that one of the renovation contracts issued clandestinely resulted in the collapse of a building injuring workers.
The protection of the clerk by the MCAs is most brazen display of impunity as Vihiga residents cry out for justice over embezzlement of funds. Last week, a motion by nominated MCA Ben Ombima to discuss the conduct of the clerk was given a cold shoulder by all MCAs. It is emerging that the clerk is holding the MCAs to ransom after he gave them illegal allowances totalling Sh800,000 each. For the 39 MCAs, it amounts to Sh31,200,000 million embezzled at a single sitting. Our investigations reveal that the UDF dominated Vihiga county assembly is so compromised in graft that the mere mention of suspending the clerk sends many MCAs peeing in their pants. 
This is why EACC is seeking to unravel how massive the stealing is by asking for allowance payment vouchers including those of allowances paid for at Flamingo Hotel in Mombasa at the end of last year.  This is the genesis of the Flamingo Hotel Declaration at in which the clerk threatened MCAs that if he went to Kodiaga Prison on theft charges; they would end up in Kamiti because he was ready to tell-all about their raiding the assembly coffers. There is a stalemate where thieves are reluctant to tell on each other and hold each other to ransom.
Ombima raised the matter of fraud charges, EACC corruption investigations and a missing assembly vehicle registration No KBZ955D Toyota Hilux registered in the assembly name but which the clerk says has not been released due to non-payment of Sh2.8 million. In documents to the assembly, Ombima questioned how the same vehicle ownership is already registered under registration No K826404B. “Under the law, you can not have the vehicle registered as owned by the assembly if there is pending payment, government inspection and dealers clearance. How was the registration certificate obtained? This vehicle is being hidden and used privately by the clerk,” said Ombima, accusing his colleagues of closing their eyes on major graft in the assembly and the county at large which is at the tutelage of governor Akaranga.

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