A major corruption scandal has rocked City Hall, with Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja at the center of a sprawling investigation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI). The probe has revealed a complex web of financial impropriety involving numerous law firms and the alleged embezzlement of public funds running into hundreds of millions.
DCI detectives, following thorough leads, have uncovered startling evidence pointing to malpractice by nine companies that were paid handsomely despite failing to provide any goods or services.
In a terse letter dated July 21, 2023, addressed to Governor Sakaja, the Director of Criminal Investigations, Mohamed Amin, through DCI’s head of Investigations Bureau, David Birech, demanded a comprehensive list of tender documents, requisitions, award contracts, delivery and inspection reports, and local purchase orders issued to the nine profiled companies. These companies are suspected to have been part of a money laundering scheme and implicated in fraudulent payments for services never rendered.
The corruption scheme is believed to have involved collusion between sector heads within the Nairobi county government, procurement officers, contractors, and County Treasury officials. Together, they orchestrated a cunning plan to siphon hundreds of millions from the public coffers, leaving behind little evidence of the services purportedly rendered.
Further exacerbating the situation, the Controller of Budget (CoB), Margaret Nyakang’o, declined to approve Sh1.5 billion in expenditure requisitions for legal fees and development expenditures. These payments lacked proper documentation, raising red flags about their legitimacy.
Governor Sakaja’s administration had intended to pay a total of Sh2 billion to 19 law firms as pending bills, but the lack of supporting documentation prompted CoB Nyakang’o to request a revision of the payment schedule. The absence of invoice dates made it difficult to determine whether these were actual pending bills or works invoiced during the current financial year.
A vigilant lawyer, Clinton Mwale, filed a lawsuit against the Nairobi County government, Governor Sakaja, and the Law Society of Kenya, effectively stopping the controversial payout. Mwale questioned the fairness of the selection process for the law firms to be paid, which seemed to discriminate against the majority of firms that had also provided legal services to the county.
The law firms implicated in the scandal include a long list of entities:
1. Makallah Theuri & Company Advocates
2. L.N Nyaribo & Company
3. Okatch & Partners
4. Okubasu Munene & Kazungu Advocates
5. Gikunda Miriti & Company
6. Masire & Mogusu
7. Anne Munene & Company
8. Koceyo & Company Advocates
9. Roba & Associates
10. Ummi Bashir & Company Advocates
11. J.W Wachira Advocates
12. Momanyi and Associates
13. Jamal Bake & Associates
14. Bespoke Insurance Brokers Limited
15. Osoro Onyiego and Manyara Advocates
16. Swanya and Company Advocates
17. Arati and Company
18. KO Advocates
19. Moronge Advocates
20. Ojienda Co. Advocates
This is not the first time legal fee payments have come under scrutiny. In March of the previous year, the Nairobi County Assembly initiated an inquiry into the controversial payment of Sh595 million to several law firms. The lack of documentation and transparency surrounding these payments raised concerns about potential financial impropriety.
As the investigation continues to unfold, the spotlight is firmly fixed on Governor Sakaja and the implicated law firms. The DCI’s pursuit of justice is relentless, and the public anxiously awaits accountability for those responsible for the alleged misappropriation of public funds.