Ex-KEMSA board chair Kembi Gitura denies role in COVID-19 supplies scam

Former Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) Board Chairman Kembi Gitura has poked holes in the National Assembly’s Public Investment Committee report on the COVID-19 billionaires scandal.

The former chair, who is accused of influencing tenders at the supplies agency, claimed the committee convicted him without looking at his evidence.

Gitura equally faulted the report that calls for further investigations at a time investigations into the scandal had been closed.

Gitura, who left the board to chair the Communications Authority board, rubbished the report as not only frivolous but a waste of taxpayers money for the numerous meetings they sat probing the scam.

“I reckon what they don’t seem to appreciate is that EACC completed substantially its investigations some time last year and they made their own recommendations to the office of the DPP on who to charge and who not to charge. In other words, that matter of investigations is completed,” he said.

In its recommendations, the PIC report asked EACC to investigate Gitura alongside Joel Gesuka Onsare, who sat in the KEMSA board, on the award of commitment letters to Wallabis Ventures Limited, Villa Surgical Supplies and Equipment Limited.

The former board chair claimed neither his evidence nor that of the Director of Wallabis Ventures were considered in what he described a vindictive report.

The report recommended further investigations by EACC, with intent to prefer charges of violating the Public Officers and Ethics Act for the duo.

For the former KEMSA board chair, the National Assembly’s watchdog committee was arrogating itself imaginary powers.

“If it’s a true genuine committee doing its work, they should have stopped at saying ‘we’re not able to verify the truth or otherwise of this allegation so recommend further investigations.’ But they cannot say that I be investigated with a view to being charged because they do not know what the outcome of that investigation would be,” said Gitura.

Given the magnitude of the multi-billion shillings KEMSA scandal and the alleged flouting of procurement procedures through direct sourcing without a requisite budget, three committees of Parliament moved to probe the scam.

The National Assembly had the Public Investment Committee and the Health Committee while the Senate Health Committee equally undertook parallel investigations into the matter.

This as the anti-graft body initiated a similar probe after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed investigative agencies to scrutinize procurement of COVID-19 supplies within 21 days.

To forestall what he terms overlapping of mandates, time wastage and pilferage of public resources, Gitura proposes that Parliament adopts a common strategy in such probes.

Kembi: we can’t have three committees investigating the same institution calling the same people only to arrive at three different conclusions

A preliminary probe by EACC revealed that KEMSA officials flouted procurement procedures by direct sourcing, as companies with less than six months in operation easily clinched tenders without credible financial records being presented.

Nothing has been heard of the case since the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) recommended further probe to the first files presented by the EACC.

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