Waiguru turned away by senators over questionable documents

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru on Thursday endured a rough time before a Senate oversight committee as the lawmakers chased her away for lack of preparedness.

The controversial county chief, who showed up before the panel following a summons, ran into trouble soon after she entered the room to respond to 2017-18 audit queries.

Moments after the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee (CPAIC) chairman Sam Ongeri (Kisii) reprimanded her for snubbing the committee on two occasions, Waiguru plunged into yet another problem.

“We have a precedent that has been set in the past. We have the case of West Pokot. We should adjourn this meeting and write a report,” Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei said.

But Ongeri continued the meeting despite spirited efforts by some members to have it adjourned for lack of authentic documents.

He said that in the previous instances where the committee had turned governors away, they had completely failed to sign their responses.

Minutes later, the governor found herself in yet another problem that eventually forced the chairman to prematurely end the meeting.

“If we continue at this rate, it may be incriminating. Some people may be charged with perjury for providing wrong documents,” Ongeri said.

“Our Constitution speaks of fair administrative of action … I am persuaded that we will give you two weeks… remember this will be an invitation and if you don’t bring those documents, we shall not hesitate to apply the provision of Public Audit Act.”

 The documents she had presented were not tallying with the ones her office had submitted to the office of Auditor General for scrutiny. In addition, most of the annexes attached to the responses, including payment vouchers, were not authenticated or signed by relevant officers, while attachments were blank.

“In the letter that invited the governor on Monday, September 21, 2020, it was noted that all county executives were required to, within days prior to appearance, submit written responses to the auditor,” Migori Senator Ochillo Ayacko said.

The members identified the “gaps” in the annexures responding to a query where the auditor had flagged the expenditure of Sh753.59 million in the acquisition of assets.

“… which includes an amount of Sh7,272, 081 in respect of the purchase of office furniture and general equipment. However, the payment details and schedules provide for audit reflected an expenditure of Sh14,165,503 on the purchase of office furniture… resulting in an unexplained and unreconciled difference of Sh6,893,442,” reads the report.

In addition, records for payments amounting to Sh1.92 million were not presented for audit verification.

In her response, Waiguru said the actual expenditure on office furniture was Sh7.2 million and that the variance captured by the auditor as the purchase of furniture was part of the transfer to polytechnics.

She further adduced that the documents for payments amounting to Sh1.9 million had been attached for verification. But on perusing the document, it emerged that some of them were not signed while some pages were blank.

“I confirm that having looked through at the annexes, that is why I was asking who was in charge of these documents, they are not authenticated or signed.

“It must be something serious. Someone must be mischievous and wants to mislead the committee. The governor must know that she is under oath. We must be very keen when governors want to mislead us,” Cherargei said as he asked Ongeri to adjourn the meeting.

Taita Taveta’s Johannes Mwaruma said, “The first time the county failed to appear, they were not prepared. Now they are saying they are prepared but the documents have not gone through the auditor. I think we rule that we adjourn.”

Senators Irungu Kang’ata (Murang’a) and Hargura Godana (Marsabit) also urged the chairman to call off the meeting.

“Urging you that we give the county may be about two weeks, they provide these documents to the Auditor General. This committee is not adversarial. If you agree with me, I would urge you to give the county at least two weeks,” he said.

Waiguru admitted guilt but blamed a disconnect between officers and the auditors for the mix-up. She pleaded with the committee for more time.

“It appears there is a disconnect between the office of the Auditor General and my office… It may be prudent that you give us more time so the auditor can go through the document because we confirm he has them,” she said.

Ongeri gave in to the members’ push and adjourned the meeting, instructing her to appear on December 2, equipped with all the necessary documentation.

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