By David Mwere
Public Service Principal Secretary Lilian Mbogo and a number of top ministry officials will be interrogated by the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee following the loss of Sh9 billion from the National Youth Service (NYS).
Also expected before the watchdog committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi is NYS Director-General Richard Ndubai, and Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, who was at the helm of the ministry when the scandal began in 2016.
The NYS is now a department of the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, after it was transferred from the Ministry of Devolution in 2015. The ministry was then headed by Ms Anne Waiguru, who resigned after a scandal involving the loss of Sh791 million.
Ms Waiguru, now Kirinyaga governor, denied involvement in the scandal, saying she was a whistleblower.
On Monday, Mr Wandayi said the officials are expected to explain what they know about the disappearance of the billions “at a time the country is faced with many challenges”.
“This committee has invited the accounting officer responsible for the State Department of Youth, among other individuals from the ministry and NYS, to respond to the queries related to the latest scandal,” Mr Wandayi said.
PAC’s intervention comes after the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) quizzed Ms Mbogo and Mr Ndubai, among others, over the issue, as Public Service CS Margaret Kobia warned that anyone found guilty will face the law.
However, Ms Mbogo claims that the the DCI is investigating the loss of Sh900 million, and not Sh9 billion, which she termed exaggerated in a memo to her boss, Prof Kobia.
The memo is said to have been written two days after President Uhuru Kenyatta summoned Prof Kobia to explain the scandal that is a blot on his war against corruption.
In the latest scandal, NYS officials are said to have set up dummy companies, forged tender documents and exploited loopholes in the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS).
The scandal, which comes after President Kenyatta’s warning to government officers to avoid corruption, involves senior government officials, DCI sources reveal.
They say the looting started in 2016 and was authorised and executed in favour of shadowy entities which supplied nothing but got paid.
The DCI has zeroed in on 36 companies claiming to have supplied the NYS with goods.
“This culture of embezzlement of limited public resources must surely come to an end. People must be held to account for the roles they played that saw the billions disappear,” Mr Wandayi told the Nation on Monday.
But despite Mr Wandayi’s remark, it it notable that at least 23 people prosecuted for the Sh791 million loss were acquitted in March this year for lack of evidence.
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