Former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru yesterday accused powerful Government operatives of colluding with business people to loot Sh1.6 billion from the National Youth Service (NYS).
Among those Ms Waiguru named in documents handed to MPs were Farouk Kibet, an aide to Deputy President William Ruto, whom she claimed was constantly on the phone with prime suspect Ben Gethi in the days before the theft was executed.
Waiguru told members of the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly that Gethi and Farouk had 262 phone calls between them before and during the transactions through companies associated with another key suspect, Josephine Kabura.
“She is a puppet of this cartel of Gethi and his operatives who are powerful individuals,” Waiguru said at the end of the day-long grilling at Parliament Buildings.
She cited an investigative report compiled by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID), which also found that Gethi was frequently on the phone with Ochieng Jerome, the director of the Government’s electronic payments system known as IFMIS.
Mr Jerome spoke 12 times to Gethi, according to information that was generated by the CID during its investigations, and presented by Waiguru.
Sacked Principal Secretary for Planning Peter Mangiti spoke nine times to Gethi, while Kabura communicated 50 times with multiple members of the network.
Before Waiguru left at about 6.30pm, she shocked the MPs with claims that the said cartel had set aside Sh200 million for a smear campaign that would frustrate investigations, in a super scheme to shake detectives off at every turn.
Former NYS Director General Nelson Githinji, according to the records, made numerous calls to Adan Gedow and Hendrik Pilisi.
The call records place Gethi at the centre with the most calls either beginning or terminating on his line. The document contains identification numbers of the personalities mentioned.
At one time, she also questioned the payments disguised as legal fees made from Gethi’s firms to Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen.
“The amounts being transferred were too huge to be legal fees,” Waiguru said, citing that the supposed transfers could only have been possible if the transactions where the senator acted as an advocate would be worth at least Sh3.3 billion.
Others at the centre of the back and forth communication with Gethi were Margaret Mukhebi and Dickson Okoth Gisiora.
The former CS pleaded her innocence before the PAC, which questioned, among other issues, a prior affidavit sworn by Kabura whose 21 companies were paid Sh1.63 billion from the State Department for Planning through dubious contracts.
“I have never met or interacted with Josephine Kabura. I have never seen Kabura live (in person). I do not know her,” she told legislators, whom she even challenged to dig up all her phone communications going back seven years to prove her claim.
She blamed the looting at the Devolution ministry on an intricate web of personalities comprising among others, Mangiti and Kabura, whom she termed a “puppet” for unnamed powerful people.
Waiguru attacked Githinji and Mutahi Ngunyi over the fraud, tearing into their characters as individuals who could not be trusted.
She described Ngunyi, who owns The Consulting House – a firm awarded a tender to provide professional services to her ministry relating to the reorganisation of the NYS – as lacking in integrity.
She said Ngunyi, who has previously accused Waiguru of single-handedly recruiting his firm without competitive bidding, should have returned the extra payment.
His firm was found to have received more than Sh12 million in extra payments above the contract price, according to the findings of a forensic report.
Waiguru said the supposed network was complex and had a clear strategy to malign her name, supposedly for calling in the detectives after she first discovered that money was being looted through the manipulation of IFMIS.
“The network is intricate, the way every witness who has come before this committee has been at pains to link me to their actions is telling. They are clearly working under very powerful instructors or puppeteers, and I hope that this committee finds out who they are,” she said.
“The effort to link me with her despite all the glaring evidence is an inconvenient truth. The committee considered on Tuesday that Kabura was covering up for somebody. That person cannot be me, as Kabura has said everything evil that one can humanly say about me. So who is she covering up for?” she said.
“The information we have before this committee is that Kabura has come to your house,” said Nyamira County Woman Representative Alice Chae.
The former CS, who was appearing before PAC to explain her role in the loss of money, faced a barrage of questions from MPs on earlier evidence implicating her in the scam.
Waiguru has been named by various witnesses as the mastermind of the scandal, including claims by her former PS Mangiti that she issued illegal instructions, including in the hiring of Adan Harakhe to the non-existent position of Deputy Director General of the NYS.
Harakhe was subsequently designated as one of the people with authority to incur expenditure at the ministry.
Waiguru was taken to task over speculation that she was protecting Harakhe from responsibility in the loss of the money.
Gethi in his testimony before the committee also blamed Waiguru, saying she fixed him in the scandal.
Earlier on, Waiguru had a difficult time exonerating herself from a request to Parliament for the approval of a Sh3.5 billion supplementary budget – money the ministry did not need.
Abdikadir Adan (Balambala): You would know who was the person responsible for keying in.
Waiguru: The days on who keyed in are all together with the original documents which if you will remember this matter was under investigation and they carried all the documents. I will endeavour to find them but if you want the originals, if you write to the CID, they should be able to provide you…
Adan: If I show you this voucher here, are you able to tell us the name of the individual?
Waiguru: Not with the signature… but I know you can get it. If the committee wants the original documents, they are there because it is the basis why this matter is in court. If you write to IFMIS I will give you everybody who transacted across the chain. You can’t delete. It’s there unless you shut the system… the evidence is there and it is irrevocable.