Jailed Sirisia MP John Waluke’s troubles have piled up as his Constituency Development Fund committee is accused by the civil society of diverting Sh18 million earmarked for a local school to bail him out of jail.
Bungoma Civil society members now want the Director of Criminal Investigation and the EACC to conduct an audit of alleged financial impropriety at Sirisia constituency fund accounts.
The members led by the Director, Center for Good Governance, Phillip Wanyonyi Wekesa are alleging that Sh18 million set aside to develop a modern administration block at Lwandanyi Secondary School in the constituency had been diverted to bail out the area MP John Waluke who has been jailed for 67 years.
Wekesa demanded for action against the Sirisia constituency fund manager and the CDF committee for withholding Sh18 million allocated to the school located in Bungoma West in 2019.
The money, meant for the construction of an administration block in the school was allegedly transferred back to the main Sirisia CDF account for ‘other’ use. This has created a rift between the MP’s office and the school management and has now caught the eye of the public.
“They should say where the money went to or we will go the streets and demand for action,” said Wekesa.
The CDF officials who are joint signatories with the school at the Bungoma National bank branch refused to allow expenditure of the money for close to a year to punish the school management for demanding for transparency in the tendering process.
The Fund manager who has now been transferred to another station admitted before the outgoing County Commissioner Dr. Abdi Hassan last month that the school was denied the money after the school management refused to ‘cooperate with the CDF committee’.
After a tussle between the committee and the school management on tendering queries, the CDF committee wrote a letter to the principal demanding the return of the money to the main CDF account.
Former Bungoma County Commissioner Dr. Abdi Hassan then gave the committee three days to release the funds but no action has been taken to date.
Dr. Hassan has now been transferred to the Office of the President at Nairobi leaving the matter unresolved.
Bungoma County Director of Education Fred Osewe accused the CDF committee of making unilateral decisions about critical issues affecting schools without involving the ministry.
“We are the main stakeholders in any learning institution and any issue of grave concern would have been communicated to the Ministry if the CDF committee was disillusioned instead of punishing students who need good infrastructure in schools.
Osewe said CDF is a public fund that should be utilized well to benefit the public which contributes the money through taxes.
“Nobody should handle the money as his. It belongs to the public and there should be no unwarranted delays in utilizing the funds to improve infrastructure in schools,” he stated.
Wekesa said the fund manager should not have been transferred but instead be arrested and prosecuted in court with the CDF committee members for promoting graft.
“The government should not transfer graft to another station if the President is committed to fighting graft,” Wekesa added.
The principal of the school Renson Murunga Luseneka who is a signatory to the account overlooked the letter authorizing him to send back the money to the CDF main account.
Lusenaka said that the stalled project has the blessings of the school management so long as due process is followed but the fund manager insisted that the money should be returned to the main account to be given out to other schools that were in ‘dire need’ of projects.
Lusenaka claimed that he became a villain when he differed with the MP and the committee for demanding due process adding that he refused to be lured into sanctioning illegalities that could kill his career.
He said the stalemate is as a result of the firm stand taken by the school and the BOM to demand for basic legal requirements for a successful tendering process that were ignored by the MP and the committee.
The Principal blamed the fund manager in the presence of the County Commissioner for impunity adding that he was ready to be transferred to another school rather than bend the tendering process to please the CDF committee.
The BOM chairman Dr. Francis Juma Wesiela said that his committee resisted all attempts by the CDF committee to flout the procurement process.
Dr. Wesiela said that the school was verbally warned by the MP and the committee members to prepare for consequences for ‘blocking development’ initiated by the MP.
“Our greatest mistake was to ask for drawings, the bill of quantities to be in our possession and asking the office to establish a tender box at the school as we follow due process in tendering which is mandatory but the Fund management could hear none of it,” added Dr. Wesiela.
The BOM chairman said that they could not be part of an illegality that would haunt them in future.
However, in a quick rejoinder, the Sirisia CDF chairman Phillip Malaba said the school management should carry the blame “for not cooperating with the committee”.
“We are ready to release funds for a bus or the same project once the school management writes a proposal in the coming financial year,” said Malaba.
He was at pains to explain why the committee could not approve the use of the funds for close to a year.
The Personal Assistant to the jailed MP Patrick Wakhisi said the family have other sources of raising funds for bailing out the MP.
“The MP cannot be part to such scandalous allegations. The family, friends and lawyers are working out to bail out the MP and these plans are independent and are not relying on CDF funds that are prudently managed by able officers from Nairobi,” claimed Wakhisi.
He however maintained that the committee wrote a letter to the principal to allow the transfer of the money back to the main account after the management failed to cooperate with the committee.
“We wanted the money to be taken back to the main account because the school management was stubborn so that it can be used elsewhere within the ward,” Wakhisi claimed.
By Roseland Lumwamu