Recently detectives raided the private office of Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja in a probe into claims of intimidation and threats to witnesses in a case under probe. We have information that two of the governor’s aides are on the radar. They are said to be the real masterminds of the multimillions shillings City Hall scandal that saw president William Ruto recently claim while attending the devolution conference that counties are at the centre of mega corruption in Kenya.
According to sources within the investigations, EACC is likely to take over the case from DCI. It has emerged that State House and deputy president Rigathi Gachagua are keenly following the unfolding events at City Hall.
According to sources, at least Sh2 billion has disappeared. For now, a multistate security team is profiling what those linked to the scam have recently acquired in the names of proxies including girlfriends and family members, both inside and outside the country.
Informed sources reveal that those implicated had money transferred from approved budgets for various departments to the departments they wanted nine companies paid.
Linked to the scandal which many say has even shocked the governor are Osman Khalif, Sakaja’s liaison officer and former South B MCA. Then we have David Njoroge, chief-of-staff, City Hall. One Priscilla Mahinda the chief officer based at the governor’s office name also features prominently.
They have usurped chief officers and county executive’s powers as they control payments in a hawkish manner. In fact it is said, one CEO of finance, Charles Kerich, has beer sidelined and at one time threatene to resign. According to those privy to investigations, Osman and Njoroge are the faces much feared at City Hall and when they visit one’s office, the are either pushing to have a friendly firm win lucrative tender pushing for multimillions shillings payments.
Reports we have are that Osman and Njoroge plotted for the downfall of one Josphine then in charge of ward development. They wanted her to ask from contractors 20 percent pocket money on any tender awarded, something that raised eyebrows.
According to information we have, the theft of departmental budgets is being unearthed. One key forgery at the centre involves forged signature of one Karanja of roads department. It is worth noting that Karanja retired from City Hall but his signature was used in the payment of Sh35m to the controversial nine companies.
The raid came following leads into claims that one of personal assistants are threatening witnesses. The raid happened on Friday at the offices along Riverside in the city. The officers, according to inside information, interviewed a number of staff there and summoned others for further grilling.
Suspended Nairobi county attorney Lydia Kwambika was questioned by detectives investigating controversial payments at city hall and money laundering claims. Kwamboka recorded her statement for the better part of Monday afternoon, Wednesday and Thursday before being shown the door.
However, police are for now treating her as both a witness and whistleblower in the prove they’re conducting. Other officials said the development is a positive move into the probe.
Sources said she met the top leadership at Criminal Investigations, including the director Mohamed Amin, and head of investigations David Birech who listened to her narration before an investigator was called to record her statement. This is in regard to a case of among others, money-laundering that police are investigating.
Also seen at the DCI on Monday last week was the county finance chief officer Asha Abdi. She is said to have delivered bundles of documents the DCI wants in relation to the ongoing probe. Other sources said the team has analysed movements of the money that was paid in the saga and they may soon apply for freezing of some accounts.
They are are moving to even court to seek orders to freeze some accounts. Birech first wrote to the county government in July demanding a number of documents. They include a list of tender documents, requisitions by the user department, award contracts, delivery and inspection reports and all local purchase orders issued to profiled nine companies believed to have been used to siphon the money.
According to DCI, the nine listed firms are believed to have been used in suspected money laundering services not rendered.
“This office is investigating a case of suspected money laundering in which Nairobi county government is alleged to have fraudulently made payments to companies which did not render services,” the letter reads. The letter from the DCI was addressed to the Nairobi county secretary Patrick Analo and received on July 24 2023.
The DCI’s probe into the issue at City Hall comes a month after the Controller of Budget Margaret Nyakang’o declined to approve Sh1.5 billion expenditure requisitions they made to pay legal fees and development expenditure made without properly providing supportive documents.
The Nairobi county government leadership had planned to effect payments amounting to Sh2 billion and controversially selected 19 law firms as pending bills without proper documentation.
In a recent appearance before the county assembly committee on justice and legal affairs chaired by Jared Akama, Kwamboka informed the committee that her roles were usurped by the cartel who went ahead to pay the firms which owe the county huge amounts, contrary to her advice which was targeting to clear pending bills from firms with small amounts.
She questioned the criteria used in determining matters to be paid despite the sector having a budget to settle the small matters and what happened to the allocated budget of Sh60 million. Sources say Engineer Karanja’s forged signature to facilitate move of millions of shillings in approved budget is key in the probe. Detectives from the cyber crime and general fraud units are involved in the investigations.
The detectives are also investigating payments totaling to Sh592,558,629 paid to different firms by City Hall in June, 2023. His chief of staff Njoroge alias Davy, Mahinda have bought houses in Kileleshwa, Runda among other areas. Most of the payments are believed to be for work that cannot be authenticated while some are abandoned projects.
Detectives are also relying on crucial information shared by disgruntled but genuine suppliers whose payments have not been released. This is despite the county having received over Sh70 billion from the exchequer who released all monies owed to counties.
The nine companies are Brigit West Limited, Future Link Limited, AR Pharmaceuticals Limited, Larsen Investment Company, Burasha General Suppliers Limited, Tweem Limited, Cloud Mobile Technologies Limited,, Istanbul Investment Limited and Ramecon Engineering Limited.
The documents under investigation include; requisitions by user department, award of contracts, delivery and inspection reports and all local purchase orders. It is alleged that the county had yet to fully comply and that relevant departments were requesting for more time to avail the documents.
In July, the Controller of Budget declined the county’s request to approve Sh 1billion in pending bills owed to legal firms that served it.
The COB directed CEC for finance to reveal why the county failed to provide the payment plan, which would enable the matching of individual payees to the requisition.
In a letter dated June 27 2023, she requested county executive committee member for finance Kerich to provide clarifications on the exchequer requisition for legal fees totaling Sh1,068,277,305.
It is not clear how the county maneuvered its way to pay Sh1.4 billion even without approvals from the user department.