By The Weekly Vision
What began as mere speculations about Nairobi City Governor Johnson Sakaja, through his Finance and Economic Planning CEC Charles Kerich planning to spend over Ksh. 1B to pay well-connected Law firms is now in the open after the Controller of Budget Dr Margaret Nyakang’o raised the red flag.
In a letter dated 27th July 2023 (Ref: COB/NBI/001/171(11) addressed to Mr Kerich and copied to Governor Sakaja, Dr Nyakang’o raises several queries and anomalies. She questioned the legality of the payments after Mr Kerich requested the CoB to approve an expenditure of Ksh. 1,068,277,305 as payment in legal fees to various law firms which had allegedly rendered legal services to Nairobi City County on diverse dates. According to available evidence, Mr Kerich had asked for the approval of Ksh. 562,124,660 on 19th June 2023 (Ref:NRB/FIN/1/2824/2023) and Ksh. 509,152,645 (Ref: NRB/FIN/1/2825/2023), the two requisitions were made on the same day.
The Controller of Budget however declined to approve the requests noting that the County Government had not provided her office with the pending bills payments plan which could enable her office to match the individual payee to the requested Ksh.1b. The CoB further noted that it was difficult to match the requested payments with the pending bill’s report earlier presented to her office.
In a detailed letter to Mr Kerich, the CoB demanded to be provided with a detailed report capturing the basis of the legal fees and the status of each court case including copies of judgments, and a detailed report on the criteria used to pay the law firms and whether the proposed payment is a part payment or a final payment.
Another controversial requisition Mr Kerich made which is also on the radar of CoB is dated 20th June 2023 where he requested approval of Ksh. 378,860,686 being requisition for Development Expenditure under reference NRB/FIN/1/2821/2023. Under this requisition, the CoB noted that the schedule for 19 firms to be paid does not exclude invoices’ dates, therefore it was difficult to ascertain whether they are pending bills or related to work done and invoiced in the current financial year. The letter reads in part “Please, therefore, revise the schedule to include the dates of the invoices and attached copies of the payment vouchers for the 19 firms”.
The rejection of the Ksh. 1b requisition puts Governor Sakaja and Mr Kerich on the spot with concerns over the modality used in identifying the law firms to be paid first and why prioritize them over other service providers who are equally owed hundreds of millions of shillings. The CoB now insists that Mr Kerich must categorically show the criteria used to identify the 19 law firms to benefit from the Ksh. 1b requested.
City Hall sources revealed that Governor Sakaja, Mr Kerich and top Treasury officials at City Hall may have cut deals with several law firms before the fraudulent approvals were made for the payments. Sources told The Weekly Vision that most of the law firms that stand to benefit from the 1 Billion shillings windfall were handpicked by Governor Sakaja and Mr Kerich. They are politically correct Law firms allied to the ruling Kenya Kwanza Coalition.
This is not the first time Mr Kerich is involved in controversial payments as Finance CEC. During the tenure of Governor Sonko, he was made a super minister by the former governor through an executive order dated July 18th 2018 which made him the ‘overall supervisor’ to all CECs. The executive order was revoked when Sonko suspended him alongside other 16 county officials following a collapse of a building at Talent School in Ngando Ward in Dagoretti. Mr Kerich was recommended for the job by William Ruto after the 2017 elections.