Information Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has appointed Jared Peter Odoyo Kwaga — the key suspects in a Sh2 billion ‘white collar heist’ probe targeting Migori Governor Okoth Obado — to the Kenya Institute of Mass Communication (KIMC) board.
Kwaga was listed in a gazette notice dated February 8 alongside former Bonchari MP Zebedeo John Opore, KBC chairman Edward Musebe, former NGO Coordination Board member Dee Kivuva Mutisya, former newscaster Beatrice Marshall and former National Quality Control Laboratory Board member Kagiri Kamatu.
The seven will serve a three-year term until February 7, 2022.
Kwaga runs a Pasha Center in Migori- a digital village project by the ICT Authority, which provide Internet access to entrepreneurs seeking training and communication in rural areas.
He has been on the radar of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) as one of the proxies that Governor Obado used to siphon over Sh2 billion from county coffers.
Kwaga owns seven companies that the EACC insists received money through dubious supply contracts before wiring the funds to Mr Obado in a complicated web of transactions.
The EACC adds that Kwaga wired some of the graft proceeds to Obado’s daughter Susan through a Sh1.9 million bank transfer in December 2014.
Kwaga’s wife Christine Akinyi Ochola, brothers Patroba Ochanda Otieno and Joram Opala Otieno and his mother Penina Auma are also part of the scheme, as per the EACC’s court filings.
EACC’s documents before court show that Kwaga’s companies received Sh1.6 billion in dubious contracts that the watchdog is investigating, after which substantial amounts were wired to Obado.
Another 37 pieces of land in Migori and its environs were acquired with funds believed to have been stolen, and 22 of them are registered in Kwaga’s name.
According to the EACC, Governor Obado operated an intricate web of companies and accomplices that saw county funds transferred to his children’s accounts in Australia, Hong Kong and China.
Allegations are that part of the cash paid to Mr Kwaga was wired to the accounts of Scarlet Susan Okoth and Acholla Okoth.
While the Migori-based businessman has not been found guilty of fraud, his appointment is certain to raise debate at a time the war on graft tops President Uhuru Kenyatta’a agenda – as he has continuously elucidated.
EACC spokesperson Yasin Amaro said any individual under such investigations cannot be appointed to public office as per law.
“If someone is under investigation they cannot be appointed to public office until investigations are completed. According to Chapter Six of the Constitution, it is a requirement.
“That’s the reason people first come for clearance from EACC. Once we check out the facts on the ground on Monday, we will review everything and see what action to take,” Mr Amaro said.
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