A court in Runyenjes, Embu County, has convicted eight people, including four former senior officials of the defunct Chuka Municipal Council, of corruption and fined them a total of Sh10.3 million.
Each of the accused was ordered to pay Sh1,284,000 or serve 12 months in prison in default.
Following the conviction, they were escorted to prison as they could not immediately pay the fines imposed on them.
The former municipal officials — John Gikingo (town clerk), Henry Katiso (town engineer), Smith Gikunda (works officer) and then treasurer Richard Ondiek — were jointly charged with four contractors.
The contractors are Lee Mugendi, Martin Ray Mwenda, Albert Mbabu and Ann Wangechi.
They were charged with misappropriating Sh4,734,577 million that had been disbursed by the Kenya Roads Board for the routine maintenance of roads within the municipality.
In her ruling, Senior Principal Magistrate Beatrice Kimemia said the prosecution had proved that there was a prima facie case against the accused persons.
“The prosecution established that there was enough evidence in support of the prosecution case and that is why the accused persons were put on their defence,” she said.
Ms Kimemia noted that the officials colluded with the contractors who were awarded tenders in total disregard of procurement laws.
On whether procurement laws were followed, the magistrate ruled that the former town clerk, who was the accounting officer, was to ensure that tender committees were established, letters of appointment were available and bid securities were valid, which he failed to perform.
She said the tender evaluation committee did not have a chairman while contracts were awarded to companies that never met basic requirements.
Flawed tender evaluation
The magistrate agreed with the prosecution that the tender evaluation process was flawed.
Further, the magistrate observed that companies that did not bid for certain contracts were introduced after bid opening and the submitted figures altered.
“Companies which ought to have been rejected were awarded five contracts, which is illegal,” the magistrate said.
Surprisingly, the contractors were paid all the money without inspection of their work.
“The contracts were not managed and there was no inspection. Certificates of payment were even made by contractors themselves,” said the magistrate.
She said the accused persons committed a serious crime and should be heavily punished to discourage them from repeating similar crimes.
Central Region EACC Manager Charles Rasungu welcomed the court’s verdict, saying justice had been done.
Mr Rasungu said the court’s ruling will serve as a warning to other corrupt people.
“Such a ruling will discourage people from looting public funds and being involved in other forms of corruption,” he said.