The Siaya County Commissioner (CC), Michael Ole Tialal has cautioned heads of learning institutions to be wary of conmen out to fleece them while posing as senior government officials.
Addressing Secondary School Principals at Ramba Catholic Church hall in Siaya on Friday, Tialal said members of the public have lost thousands of shillings to a syndicate believed to be composed of inmates from a maximum security prisons.
He especially warned newly appointed principals to be wary of calls alleged to be emanating from their bosses demanding either favours or money to fund suspicious activities.
Tialal, who was flanked by top security chiefs, among them, the County Police Commander, Francis Kooli, Prisons Commander, Francis Opondo and the Intelligence Chief, Joseph Gesabo narrated how the syndicate used his name early this year to con local businessmen of thousands of money.
He said that the conmen called a senior police officer and convinced him that Interior Principal Secretary, Karanja Kibicho was poised to tour the region to meet and issue guns to selected businessmen.
“The officer, without counterchecking facts, mobilized five businessmen through the county Maendeleo ya Wanawake Chairperson and forwarded their contacts,” said the CC.
“The conman later contacted the businessmen, pretending that they were me and wanted some money to prepare for the guest and that they would be given preference in the alleged issuance of firearms,” Tialal told the principals drawn from all secondary schools in the county.
Tialal said that the businessmen parted with Sh. 133,000 to the man who instructed them to appear before the County Commissioner for further directives.
“On a Monday morning, the day they were instructed to come to my office, one of them came and told me that she had turned up for the meeting with PS Kibicho,” said the county commissioner adding that he was shocked as there were no such plans.
“As the other businessmen arrived with the same story, the conman called again, demanding to know why they were late for the meeting at the County Commissioner’s office, not knowing that they had indeed arrived,” he said.
“I was shocked to hear the conversation,” he said, adding that they tapped the line only to realize that it was from Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.
The CC told the principals to be alert and work closely with security agencies to ensure security of their institutions.
During the meeting, a number of principals accused some policemen of frustrating their efforts to curb indiscipline and arson in schools after being compromised by parents of suspected arsonists.
A principal of one of the leading schools in Ugunja Sub County emotionally narrated how a top Criminal Investigations Officer refused to arraign in court three suspects who recently tried to torch a dormitory, despite overwhelming evidence from witnesses.
The school heads called for investigations on the conduct of the senior CID officer whom they accused of pocketing more than sh. 100,000 from the parents to drop charges against their daughters.
Reacting to the complaints, Tialal challenged the officer, who sat pensively during deliberations, to ensure that the case was expeditiously dispensed with by taking the suspects before court.
The CC assured the head teachers that the government will support them fully in ensuring that schools become safe learning areas.
By Philip Onyango