Former Nakuru County secretary charged with graft

Former Nakuru County secretary Joseph Motari charged with graft

  • Steve Mkawale 09th Jan 2020 13:08:00 GMT +0300
Former Nakuru County Secretary Joseph Motari.

The arrest and arraignment of former Nakuru County Secretary Joseph Mougusu Motari over allegation of abuse of office is a culmination of a seven-year investigation into the illegal recruitment scandal that rocked the former Governor Kinuthia Mbugua’s administration. Mr Motari, the then powerful county secretary in the inaugural county government, was on Thursday charged before Nakuru Principal Magistrate Bernard Mararo and released on a Sh500,000 bail with a surety of a similar amount. His lawyers Tom Ojienda, Harry Gakinya and David Mongeri pleaded with the court to release him on free bond. Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigators arrested Motari in Nairobi on Wednesday night, locked him at Kilimani Police Station before he was transported to Nakuru. But Motari’s woes started way back in 2016 when the County Assembly of Nakuru instituted a probe over alleged loss of Sh26 million within 11 months through illegal hiring and promotion of workers at the county. Findings of the Ad Hoc committee that investigated the illegal recruitment found culpable four senior officers it said violated the law while hiring staff. The report, which was adopted by assembly in April 2016, recommended the immediate sacking of Motari, Public Service Management Board Chief Officer Philip Sigei, Public Service Board chairman Waithanji Mutiti and his Board secretary James Mbugua for illegally employing 180 workers between January and November 2015.

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The officers, the report said, played a key role in driving up the county's wage bill to Sh5.25 billion, which was above the recommended 35 per cent of the county's total budget. The committee wondered how the officers were able to execute the tedious process of hiring in such a short time. For instance, on April 15, 2014, Motari, Mutiti and Mbugua hired 21 deputy sub-county administrators within 12 hours. The committee was chaired by the then Dundoru Ward representative Stephen Kihara, who was voted out in the last general elections. In another case, Motari, who was seconded by the Transition Authority to the county in the advent devolution, appointed drivers, personal assistants, cooks and gardeners whose work stations remained a mystery. "In the financial year 2013/14, the County Secretary appointed five drivers, three personal assistants, two cooks and two gardeners to various job groups. The committee could not establish where the said officers were deployed. As a consequence, the county has continued to incur a loss of Sh3m annually," reads the report. Motari, the committee found out, hired 120 employers illegally. "The committee established that Joseph Motari appointed 53 senior clerical officers, 35 junior clerical officers, three personal assistants, five drivers, two cooks, two gardeners and 20 ward administrators without due process," reads the report. When he appeared before the committee to defend himself, Motari admitted having made the appointment without the board's approval. However, his defence was that he acted on the instructions of the Governor. Motari was also accused of interdicting acting lands chief officer Victor Ndereba after he swore an affidavit that implicated the officials in the scam. "Ndereba, in his oral evidence, said major beneficiaries of the irregular recruitment of 16 staff under his ministry were Dr Waithanji Mutiti, CEC Rachel Maina, James Mbugua and Philip Sigei which cost the county Sh14,687,832," the report noted. It further stated that; "More importantly, the officer admitted signing the appointments under duress but was interdicted soon after the appearance by Joseph Motari." Dr Mutiti, who was the then the chairman of the Public Service Board, could have been compromised by job seekers to offer them employment. The report noted that Mutiti was party to irregular appointment of 36 workers in the Lands docket, 10 deputy sub-county administrators, 10 ward administrators and 20 additional administrators. The committee, in its verdict, said Mutiti should be removed for being grossly incompetent in his leadership of the board, tabling cooked committee minutes and for being compromised to dish out jobs. Mbugua who was the then board secretary was accused of colluding with Motari, and his chairman Mutiti in the scam. Mbugua was also accused of failing to ensure CPSB promotes values and principles, abdicated his duty by failing to take minutes of board meetings and, jointly with the board chairman, declined to sanction a request by the board for a forensic audit on the county payroll. The report finally recommended the removal Sigei who was found culpable of appointing 13 ward administrators and 11 deputy sub-county administrators irregularly. The committee recommended that the report handed over to the relevant investigative and oversight agencies, including the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission and the Senate, for further action.

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