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Graft charges stare at Obado as sleuths strike

Dark clouds are gathering in Migori Governor Okoth Obado’s horizon with the Ethic and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) detectives yesterday swooping his homes in search of documents linked to suspected siphoning of Sh2.9 billion from the county coffers.

The allegedly looted cash is a half of the county’s Sh6.6 billion allocation from the National Treasury in the 2016/17 Financial Year.

The anti-graft agency sleuths raided and searched the offices and residences of the governor, a double murder suspect, who is out on Sh5 million cash bail.

He has been charged alongside his aides Michael Oyamo and Caspal Obiero for the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno and her seven-month-old foetus in Oyugis, Homa Bay county.

With the latest turn of events, Obado faces a double-barreled political downturn should the EACC detectives proceed to prefer corruption charges that lead to conviction.   

Yesterday, EACC sources intimated that the governor and his cronies could be charged with abuse of office, with the Assets Recovery Agency also waiting in the wings to pounce should that be the legal logical imperative.   

The officers yesterday morning executed a coordinated raid on the governor’s office, his Rapogi home and an apartment in Lavington, Nairobi said to be used by his children.

Guards at the Green Gardens Apartment in Lavington told People Daily the officers arrived at the serviced apartments in tinted cars and swiftly moved into the unit.

“They collected what they wanted and left without a fuss. We did not count their numbers or record anything about them but they were here,” said a guard, who sought anonymity.

The guard also confirmed that the apartment belongs to Obado’s children and that the governor hardly spends time there. “This house belongs to the children, not the governor,” he said.

In Migori, the detectives confiscated a tablet used by one of Obado’s aides, Lisa Wema, during their raid on the governor’s offices. Wema was named as a “person of interest” in the murder of Sharon but was not arrested.

Detectives, who executed the raid allegedly damaged the governor’s home as they forced their way in.  They are said to have left with documents and communication gadgets.

EACC is probing Obado over allegations of defrauding the county of billions of shillings. The agency froze the governor’s bank accounts as well as those of his wife and children. Accounts of several companies linked to the questionable tenders that cost the county billions of shillings have also been frozen.

Operations in the county came to a standstill after word went around that EACC detectives had struck, with most of the employees keeping away for fear of arrest.

EACC spokesman Yasin Amaro confirmed that officers from the agency were at the governor’s residences and had managed to retrieve documents he termed crucial to the Sh2.9 billion procurement deals probe.

He said during the raid, they had recovered vital documents, including bank statements and those related to procurement.

“You can recall when the governor was in jail, we raided residences of his accomplices but we spared his because he was not around,” said Amaro.

Obado’s lawyer Cliff Ombeta said the detectives had carried some documents.

“They conducted a search and left with some documents,” said Ombeta without elaborating on the exact papers taken.

Procurement contracts

Amaro said they had acquired a court order based on information on alleged wanton looting of county finances through phoney companies linked to the governor and close aides.

He said investigators were probing leads that Obado could have colluded with high ranking county officials to embezzle public funds through fictitious procurement contracts.

Earlier this month, in an affidavit filed in court, the anti-graft agency claimed Obado used proxies, among them relatives, to siphon Sh2 billion from county government coffers.   

It also claimed the companies registered by proxies transacted Sh1, 971,179,180 deals exclusively from the county government within three years. The commission is pursuing Obado’s six proxies who are from one family, and a pharmacist, in a bid to recover the alleged looted funds.   

The EACC case against the six shows a qell-choreographed conspiracy in which the county government paid millions of shillings for services not rendered and goods not delivered while top county officials, including Obado, are said to have received hefty kickbacks.

In one instance, the EACC claims the county government paid more than Sh800 million to seven non-existent companies.

It was from such fictitious and non-existent deals that governor Obado is said to have received Sh39 million wired to his children studying in Australia and Scotland.

EACC claim the architect of the scandal is Jared Kwaga, a director of the 16 companies alleged to have been involved in siphoning public funds from the Migori county government.   

The matter is pending in court.

The raid came days after Obado joined Deputy President William Ruto, who was on a development tour of Migori, Kisii, Nyamira and Nyeri counties where he claimed some forces were hunting him.

   

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