Senators seek powers to subpoena former governors for loss of public funds

Senators seek powers to subpoena former governors for loss of public funds

Archive image of the Kenyan Senate. PHOTO | COURTESY

The former governors could soon find themselves before Senate oversight committees to respond to inquiries from the Auditor General that point to brazen theft of public funds.

The Chairman of the County Public Investment and Special Funds Committee, Senator Vihiga, Godffrey Osotsi, noted that his committee will invoke articles of the Constitution to have the former Governors appear before it.

“We want to ensure that in cases where we see the audit report showing blatant theft of public money, the law allows us to bring the former office holders to appear before us,” Senator Osotsi said.

This came as the committee on Tuesday grilled Kisii Governor Simba Arati on the county’s 2019-2021 financial years which were under his predecessor James Ongwae.

In the Senate session, Governor Arati failed to defend an expenditure made by the Ongwae administration to withdraw Sh6 million from the scholarship fund for use by the Executive, among others.

This prompted the Osotsi-led committee to attack the former Kisii County chief.

“In the case of Kisii County, there are several issues under the previous regime including the scholarship fund, the mortgage fund… the current administration cannot explain all this,” Osotsi added.

Last week, while appearing before the County Senate Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Homa Bay legislator Moses Kajwang’, Narok Governor Patrick Ole Ntutu also struggled to defend the expenditure of his predecessor, Samuel Ole Tunai.

The Governor was unable to explain his predecessor’s expenditure that had been noted by Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu, including unjustified adjustments worth Sh317 million and Sh37.8 million in the financial year ending June 30, 2021.

Homa Bay Governor Gladys Wanga also suffered a similar fate in the Senate due to unexplained expenses by her predecessor Cyprian Awiti.

The committee heard that former Governor Awiti borrowed money from the Automobile Mortgage and Loan Fund and advanced it to senior officials without respecting the law.

The 26 officers benefited from Sh26 million in the anomaly flagged by the Auditor General.

Other new governors who have appeared before the two oversight committees are Nadhif Jama (Garissa), Abdulswamad Nassir (Mombasa) and Jonathan Bii (Uasin Gishu), among others.