A special audit report tabled at Nandi county assembly last week has revealed massive looting of funds meant for the mitigation of Covid-19 vagaries. “Everything that could go wrong went wrong,” said nominated MCA Teresa Maiyo who chaired the special committee to investigate appropriation and expenditures of the Covid19 pandemic funds and other related matters. The report reveals damning and incriminating facts on abuse of office, disregard of the law and financial impropriety of monumental proportions. The report dated April 21 2021 was unanimously adopted by the assembly and will have far reaching implications on the fledgling county government that has been endlessly stumbling on one scandal after another for the last four years. The report recommends the suspension and immediate probe of health chief executive committee member Ruth Koech over the acquisition of malfunctioning oxygen plant, missing ICU beds and unaccounted for Covid19 emergency funds. Also recommended for suspension is the health chief officer Paul Lagat accused of conniving with suppliers to loot the county coffers with abandon. Finance CEC CPA Alfred Lagat was also fingered for suspension for perennially disrespecting the powers of the assembly and the opaque way in which he spent the Covid19 emergency funds.
Finance CO Meshack Malakwen is also recommended for suspension to pave way for investigations and forensic audit to ascertain the manner in which public funds were siphoned out. “That the Ethics and AntiCorruption Commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigation be invited to investigate the irregularities and take appropriate action,” the report reads. The county assembly probe that took close to three months unearthed fraud of a colossal amount of money and underground dealings that saw funds finding their way to the pockets of county staff. For instance, it is reported that Sh52 million was spent to buy face masks which translates to 10 million masks for 2000 frontline health workers. This would have translated to 33 masks per health worker per day for the months of March, April, May, June and July. The truth, however, reveals otherwise. “This was a pure theft,” said a source privy to information to operations at the county. Another case of conspiracy to defraud involves a construction company that supplied ICU beds and faulty ventilators and related monitors. The company also constructed Nandi Hills Hospital mortuary. How a construction company supplied medical equipment puzzled the assembly members.
“The company should have been flagged off at the evaluation stage but then again Nandi is a garden of “Do you know anybody” and the rest as they say is in the details. “Thieves should sometimes be clever and avoid playing into the hands of authorities,” said Kapsabet ward MCA Fred Kipkemboi. “You can imagine even at the height of Covid-19 pandemic thieves holed at Governor Stephen Sang’s office had the courage and audacity to deny doctors, clinical officers and nurses PPEs and other equipment so as to line their pockets,” he wondered aloud. He felt short of linking the governor to the mess in the county and wondered why he had not halted the worrying state of maladministration in the devolved unit. Meanwhile, EACC has already stated piecing together the details of theft at the county as recommended by the assembly.
In a letter seen by Weekly Citizen and signed by North Regional director Japheth Baithalu and addressed to the county secretary requesting for documents related to Covid19 funds and construction of the mortuary to be provided immediately. “The commission through its North Rift Regional office, Eldoret is conducting investigation into allegation of irregularities in procurement of ICU beds at Nandi county government,” the report reads. “To facilitate the investigations, you are kindly but urgently requested to provide us with certified copies of documents with respect to procurement, supply and distribution of ICU covering the entire supply chain from identification, delivery, payments and physical distribution,” the letter reads. The supplier is said to have been suspiciously paid Sh30 million in record three weeks contrary to what always goes on in Nandi county. This could have raised questions according to a source that declined to be named.