EACC to grill Garissa governor over Sh233m World Bank cash
The money was diverted to private accounts and withdrawn in cash by county officials In Summary
Garissa Governor Ali Korane is this morning set to be grilled by anti-graft detectives over alleged embezzlement of Sh233 million donor cash, the Star has established. The probe is likely to thrust the ex-provincial administrator into the eye of a graft storm with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission scouring through several graft allegations against his administration.
Today, the governor will be questioned about alleged misappropriation of Sh233 million given as a grant by the World Bank to Garissa County as part of the Kenya Urban Support Programme (KUSP). It is alleged that the funds, which were meant for infrastructural development of the Garissa Municipal Board, were irregularly diverted to personal accounts. The monies were then withdrawn in cash by county officials and close associates of the governor, EACC documents show. It’s further alleged that most of the projects listed to have been undertaken could not be verified on the ground. Korane initially had a date with EACC on Friday but EACC Spokesman Yassin Amaro said it was postponed to today “due to unavoidable circumstances.” “Yes, the governor has been summoned. He will appear before EACC tomorrow [Monday] morning,” Amaro told the Star. A letter inviting Korane to Integrity Centre shows that he will be grilled by two anti-graft sleuths –Andrew Lekamparish and Justus Wangia.
“The interview will be in regard to this project [KUSP] and the contract you signed on behalf of the county government and the Ministry of Transport,” the EACC letter signed by Paschal Mweu on behalf of the CEO reads in part. The KUSP is a Sh32 billion, five-year project by the World Bank targeting 45 counties aimed at improving infrastructure. The programme only excludes the city counties of Nairobi and Mombasa. Besides KUSP, the World Bank has been pumping a lot of cash in North Eastern counties, a region historically underserved and performing below national average on development indicators. Last year, the Star reported that a company associated with Korane’s brother was paid more than Sh48 million from county coffers for a tender in 2018, raising issues of conflict of interest. Mohamed Bunow Korane was paid Sh48 million through his firm, Akad Construction Company Ltd, to put up a state lodge for the Governor in Bura, Fafi constituency. Shortly after the allegations emerged, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji ordered Inspector General Hillary Mutyambai to look into alleged mismanagement and misappropriation in the county. In an official letter then, Haji said that his office has been receiving numerous complaints on the matter. “Pursuant to Article, 157(4) of the Constitution, you are directed to conduct comprehensive investigations on Garissa County Funds and forward the resultant file to my Office for directions,” Haji said. He has also asked Mutyambai to give him a progress report within 30 days. It’s not clear the status of the police probe. Korane now joins the long list of governors on the EACC radar with the commission saying counties have become the new graft bastions. Former Kiambu Governor Ferdinard Waititu was charged, barred from office and eventually impeached from office. Nairobi’s Mike Sonko was also charged and barred from office. Sonko has now been forced to surrender critical county functions to the National Government as part of a compromise to spare him removal through impeachment.