Is Kisii’s James Ongwae the next governor to be arrested for corruption?

Kisii Governor James Ongwae could be the next governor on the to-be-arrested list, according to sources privy to the goings-on at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

Ongwae, serving his second and final term, has been on the radar of detectives from the DCI and EACC for months now over allegations of embezzlement of county funds through misappropriation and false procurement.

He is facing allegations that more than KSh1.5 billion has been lost under his watch between 2013 and 2017.

Several whistleblowers, some who have spoken to Kurunzi and shared documents, gave their evidence have petitioned EACC and DCI to investigate the governor who is a retired civil servant. He is a former Permanent Secretary, who also served as the head of the Directorate of Personnel Management under the Office of the President.

Scandals associated with the governor include double procurement of various projects,false payment for projects not done, bursary money and incomplete road projects among others.

Kurunzi unearthed a number of those scandals which are now the subject of investigations and which could lead to the arrest of the governor in a few weeks’ time, according to sources.

Critics of the governor say he has been avoiding arrest by associating with well-placed individuals at EACC and other investigative agencies, most of whom he dupes to believe that his close association to Interior Cabinet Secretary – Fred Matiangi, insulates him from any action against him.

Reports suggest he has been controlling the EACC office based in Kisii through bribing some of the officers meant to conduct the probe on how he conducts county affairs.

However, Ongwae’s goose was cooked and served when his file was moved to the EACC headquarters at Integrity Centre, where he has been summoned to record statements on, at least, two occasions.

Should he be arrested, the Orange Democrstic Movement governor will become the first county boss of Raila Odinga’s party to be nabbed while in office.

Recently, Ongwae was unable to respond to questions on the management of Kisii County resources when he appeared before the Senate Public Accounts Committee.

In an apparent rescue mission from the Senators’ wrath, Senator Sam Ongeri (Kisii) and his nominated counterpart – Millicent Omanga, prevailed on the committee to give the governor more time to prepare for a return to face the Senators.

He is yet to return to parliament for grilling.

The move by Ongeri and Ms Omanga was interpreted by critics to mean the two were beneficiaries of Ongwae’s looting and gravytrain but the senators have remained mum on the allegations.

In an interesting twist, Ongwae’s deputy Joash Maangi told off Gusii leaders alleged to be corrupt, asking CS Matiangi to avoid such leaders as they were using his name as a shield from facing justice.

Maangi, who is a close ally of Deputy President William Ruto, was speaking during the New Year in Kisii and has stirred emotions with a section of the public demanding that he explains what he knows about his boss being corrupt. Others have dismissed Maangi’s sentiments as merely an attempt to play a high moral ground yet he has been part of Ongwae’s system since 2013.

With precedent already set, Maangi stands to be elevated to acting governor if Ongwae is to be arrested and charged in court.

Nairobi governor – Mike Mbuvi Sonko, is the last county boss to be arrested and charged for corruption and, like Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) and Moses Lenoolkulal (Samburu), has been barred from accessing his City Hall office.

Other governors facing different charges in court include Okoth Obado of Migori (murder) and Sospeter Ojamong of Busia (corruption), among others.

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