Former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko hired at least 33 police officers to guard him during 22-day trip to Mombasa in 2018, a report by the Auditor General has revealed.
Auditor General Nancy Gathungu also questioned as much as Sh20 billion allegedly not properly accounted for during the 2018-19 financial year.
The former governor paid a high number of guards, Sh4 million public money without authorisation, the 2018-19 report reads.
The law allows governors round-the-clock protection by a maximum of five armed police officers.
The governor’s office could not provide evidence to justify the expenditure on officers who are paid salaries and allowances by their employer, the National Police Service Commission.
The Auditor General’s report said Sonko’s administration could have caused loss of public money, questioning as much as Sh20 billion for the year under review.
The report cites financial blunders during Sonko’s second year at City Hall, exposing billions of shillings of payments made contrary to the law.
According to the report, the former county boss hired 33 police officers to provide round-the-clock security for him during the 2018 Coast trip.
“No documents were availed in support of the payment except an unsigned schedule. In addition, the purpose of the journey and authorisation for use of 33 police officers was not explained,” the report read.
During his tenure, Sonko kept a large team of formal and non-formal security officers, besides hangers-on who brandished big guns and other weapons as he was chauffeured either into the city or across the country.
The report also shows taxpayers could have lost slightly over a billion shillings through questionable payments to lawyers.
The Sonko administration paid Sh595.07 million for unjustified legal fees during the chaotic 2018-19 financial year, allegedly to law firms that provided county legal services.
The auditor concluded that the money was illegally paid by the county executive because there were no documents to support the payments.
The ex-governor’s administration was put on the spot by the withdrawal of Sh500 million whose expenditure could not be traced.
However, no supporting documents were provided to the auditors, sparking concerns the cash could have ended in private pockets.
“However, the management did not avail documents such as the nature of disputes, approval for procurement of professional services records, record of services rendered and contract agreements,” the report reads.
The report brings to the fore the financial irregularities at City Hall.
Sonko was impeached by the County Assembly in December 2020 after a two-year chaotic incumbency at City Hall.
The MCA had cited gross violation of the Constitution, abuse of office and gross misconduct as the grounds to send Sonko home.
The report says Sonko’s administration operated ‘secret’ bank accounts, which accumulated pending bills amounting to Sh70.65 billion.
The accounts also accumulated statutory deductions totalling Sh39 billion.
Meantime, projects worth Sh2.92 billion stalled in one year, denying the city residents the much needed development.
Gathungu rendered an adverse opinion, implying that the county’s financial statements were misrepresented, misstated and thus did not accurately reflect the county’s financial health.
The year under review was Sonko’s full financial year in charge of City Hall, following his election in the August 8, 2017 to succeed Evans Kidero.
Further, the report reveals that the county officials withdrew Sh206.38 million and Sh3 million from the county’s Supreme Business and Current Accounts at Equity Bank and Nairobi City County Trust Account at KCB Bank, respectively.
The cash was withdrawn for unspecified payments which, according to the report, were not supported by appropriate authority, documentation and pre-numbered payment vouchers.
During the same year, the county made withdrawals amounting to Sh249.79 million from Co-Operative Bank but no supporting documents were provided.
According to the report, City Hall operated 41 banks accounts, but during the audit, failed to disclose two accounts containing Sh7.98 million.
Further, examination of records indicates the county executive had operated bank accounts currently referred as either closed or dormant at commercial banks.
The county did not provide the supporting documents to confirm the status of the accounts.
The auditor also questioned the whereabouts of some Sh66.97 million generated from approval of development plans.
The county had declared generating Sh950.64 million from the revenue stream. However, records from the county showed 2, 582 plans were approved with the capacity to net Sh1.01 billion in revenue.
In addition, the auditor queried whether Sh8.26 million paid out to the 240 casuals, artisans and supervisors for flood mitigation actually reached the intended beneficiaries.
There was no approved list of beneficiaries, evidence of recruitment of the lot or daily attendance register. The summary of calculated amounts paid to each worker was not provided.
“Further, no indication of work done in terms of opening up and maintaining drains at subcounty levels as stated in the request to incur expenditure was provided,” Gathungu said.
She said City Hall had not settled pending bills amounting to Sh70.65 billion as at June 30, 2020. There was no explanation for the debt.
A team appointed by Sonko to finalise the verification of the pending bills was paid above the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s authorised rate.
The team was paid Sh16.48 million against the authorised payments of Sh5.64 million as Sh10.84 million.
The auditor noted the county is yet to clear statutory deductions amounting to Sh39.87 million that accumulated for a long time contrary to the law.
According to the report, mega projects worth Sh2.92 billion were stalled or delayed as at June 30, 2019.
They include roads, infrastructure and public works projects worth Sh471.38 million, bridges worth Sh96.66 million, electrical projects worth Sh51.79 million and delayed roads and bridges projects worth Sh1.03 billion.
The projects also include the construction of four stadia worth Sh1.03 billion. They are Dandora, Kawangware, Kihumbuini and Ziwani.
“It has not been possible to establish whether this contract was awarded in accordance with the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015, due to failure by the county executive to avail the advertisement of tender, the tender opening register, tender minutes and professional opinion.”
The report further shows City Hall paid a contractor for the supply, delivery and installation of a network for Trade Sectoral Offices in Nyayo House in excess of the amount stipulated on the contract.
The consultancy firm was paid Sh3.10 million against a contract sum of Sh2.67 million, resulting in excess payment by Sh428, 699.
Further, Sonko’s administration contracted a firm to supply sportswear for Sh7.71 million against an approved budget of Sh5.30 million.
“The prevailing market process of the equipment was Sh4.40 million, thereby resulting in Sh3.31 million above the market price contrary to Section 54(2) of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act (PPAD), 2015,” the report reads.
Gathungu also queried the payment of Sh105.42 million made to 11 companies that collected the garbage outside their designated area (zones). The firms were among the 35 companies contracted by City Hall.
In addition, the county does not have standard rates for the collection, transportation and disposal of solid waste for each zones contrary to the PPAD Act.
The auditor also cast doubt on the spending of Sh24.51 million on research and feasibility studies for four projects funded by the World Bank.
“No contract documents were availed for audit review to establish the role and the responsibilities of the donor and the implementing agencies,” the report reads.
The report says Nairobi, despite being a cosmopolitan county, 46 per cent of or 5,496 of the 11,926 City Hall employees are from one ethnic community.
Section 7(1) and (2) of the National Cohesion and Integration Act, 2008, states that all public officers shall seek to represent the diversity of the people of Kenya in employment of staff and that no public institution shall have more than a third of its establishment from the same ethnic community.
(Edited by V. Graham)