Deputy President William Ruto on Thursday ordered swift arrest and prosecution of suspects in the Sh1 billion scandal in Kilifi.
He asked the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Directorate of Criminal Investigation, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Banking Fraud Investigation Department to unravel how the theft took place and bring the culprits to account.
Speaking at the start of a tour of the six counties in Coast, Mr Ruto said it was absurd that a county whose residents were suffering from hunger and drought could lose such a huge amount of money to thieves and fraudsters.
“Every year, the national Government allocates Sh9 billion to Kilifi County due to the numerous problems it faces but it is embarrassing to hear that some people have colluded to steal the funds,” he said, when he officially opened the Godoma Technical Training Institute in Ganze. He also distributed of 10,000 bags of relief food in Vitengeni.
A special oversight committee is investigating how Sh1.18 billion belonging to the county ended up in bank accounts belonging to private companies through what appears to be collusion between senior county officials and outsiders.
Governor Amason Kingi also weighed in demanding to know why no suspects had been arrested yet, although the directors of the companies involved were known.
“When the matter was reported on October 10, 2016, we informed the various investigation agencies who launched investigations,” Mr Kingi said when he donated 630 bags of food to Kanyumbuni residents in Magarini. “It is now a month and no arrests have been made,” he added.
Mr Kingi who has suspended 10 senior county officials, whose passwords were used to transfer the money, said he was ready to risk his political career to end corruption in the county.
“All those who shall be found guilty shall face the full force of law,” he said adding that “if it is you, it does not matter who you are since you are going to lose your jobs and be prosecuted.”
The Anglican Church of Kenya Bishop Julius Kalu described the theft as shameful and sad, saying it was a slap in the face of residents who had hoped that devolution would help tackle widespread poverty in the region.
Speaking to the Nation from Kilifi, Bishop Kalu said it was important that the real fraudsters be named and punished.
Bishop Kalu said that it was shameful that hundreds of residents were starving in Ganze, Bamba and Magarini when officials were busy looting the county coffers.
“There should be thorough investigation within the county which seems to be rotten to the bones. Officers who recently were languishing in poverty are now driving heavy vehicles and building skyscrapers all over. Where did they get the cash if not through corruption?” he posed.
“We elected our leaders with a lot of optimism. We thought after devolution our problems would be tackled including food and water scarcity. But what we are seeing is the opposite. They are looting right and left. This is a big shame and Governor Kingi should lead the way in stopping this,” said Bishop Kalu.
Jesus Celebration Centre Bishop Thomas Kakala urged ODM leader Raila Odinga to speak out on the scandal given his firm stand on corruption nationally.
“We demand that Mr Odinga speaks out about the scandal which seems to be bigger than the NYS one, which he condemned strongly. Why is he now silent on this one? Does it mean that he sees corruption only when it touches on Jubilee and not when ODM is involved?” he posed.
MPs allied to Jubilee and who accompanied Mr Ruto demanded that the governor steps aside to pave way for investigations. Led by Kilifi North MP Gedion Mung’aro, they demanded tMr Kingi takes responsibility for the theft.
“Governor Kingi must be held to account for the missing millions in the county,” Mr Mung’aro said.
“Reports have revealed that some companies were paid Sh300 million twice for projects.” They should first arrest directors of those firms,”Mr Mung’aro said.
On Thursday, residents at Mtwapa and Malindi held peaceful demonstrations against the massive corruption demanding action against the theft.