A showdown is looming between the County Government of Kilifi and the Ethnics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) following the arrest of three senior county government officials on Wednesday.
Governor Amason Kingi came out with guns blazing on Wednesday evening, accusing the EACC of witch-hunt in the arrest of the officials as well as flouting the Access to Information Act 2016 that he said requires the anti-graft body to give the county government time to prepare and provide documents.
His Health Executive Committee, Dr. Anisa Omar also issued a notice to the effect that the officers who carried out the arrests together with the arrested officials should be put under a 14-day quarantine period for flouting Ministry of Health protocols on Coronavirus.
Mr. Kingi, who spoke to journalists in his office, absolved his officers of any wrongdoing, refuting claims that his government had failed to comply with the EACC demands by failing to produce documents for the newly launched COVID-19 medical complex.
“The Act requires the EACC to issue a notice on their area of interest to give us adequate time to compile and produce the documents, but the officers just stormed into the county offices and demanded for documents about the medical complex.
“The file is voluminous and the documents need to be photocopied before availing them to the investigators but the officers were impatient. How do you expect the county employees to photocopy such a voluminous file within two hours?” the governor complained.
He said the EACC officers did not heed to pleas to wait for the officers in charge of the departments to return from the field where they were in the fight against Coronavirus.
“They returned to our offices today (Wednesday) and arrested the county officers without necessarily giving them time to compile the document, ” he said adding “We have nothing to hide since we can account for each and every shilling spent on the project.”
The governor said he could not rule out witch-hunting as the cause of the dramatic arrests “since there has not been even a single complaint over the procurement processes regarding the project, whose construction began in 2017.”
Phase one of the project, which cost the county government Sh493 million was commissioned last week to cater for patients suffering from Coronavirus while phase two that is expected to cost about Sh398 million is expected to be ready later this year.
Mr. Kingi wondered why the EACC officers demanded to be given payment vouchers for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and ventilators yet the county government was yet to pay for the equipment.
But earlier, EACC Upper Coast Manager Ignatius Wekesa told reporters that the officers carried out the operation after the county government officials declined to comply with formal requests to provide the documents.
He said that his officers had sent several letters requesting to be provided with the documents, but the county government officials had played hide and seek games with the EACC officers.
“The current arrests came after several notices were ignored by the county government. Some of the notices regard the provision of documents to assist us with investigation on misappropriation of legal fees,” he said.
Meanwhile, the EACC officers who carried out the arrests on Wednesday and the suspects risk being placed under quarantine for allegedly flouting Ministry of Health protocols and directives in the wake of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Dr. Anisa Omar issued a notice Wednesday evening demanding that the three county government officials and the arresting EACC staff be subjected to a 14-day quarantine period for breaching the Covid-19 protocols.
In her notice, Dr. Omar said the action exposed the county government officials as well as the EACC officers to the dreaded virus since they were crammed together in one van to total disregard to the Covid-19 protocols and guidelines.
“It is worth noting that Kilifi County has so far done its best to contain this pandemic. It will be extremely discouraging if we drop our guard and thereby expose more than 1.4million people to this pandemic,” says part of the notice.
By Emmanuel Masha