Senators want Mailu, Muraguri to quit over Sh5bn health scam

 The Senate Health Committee has called for the immediate resignation of Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopas Mailu and his Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri following revelations that some Sh5 billion at the ministry cannot be accounted for.

An audit report of the last financial year has raised questions over the expenditure of the money which is suspected to have been stolen or irregularly diverted to accounts of phoney companies.

Senators had summoned the CS to appear before them and explain the findings of the leaked report but the minister did not turn up.

Angry committee members waited for Dr mailu and his PS Dr Muraguri to show up and when it became evident the duo would not turn up, committee chairman Dr Wilfred Machage informed his colleague that they could not wait anymore.

“We have been waiting for the CS since 9am and we cannot wait any more,” Dr Machage ordered.

The Migori senator explained to members that he had received some communication stating that the CS could not make it as he was in a meeting at Afya House over the same matter.

“We have been informed that they are engaged at the ministry headquarters discussing the same report,” he said.

But angry members called for the two officials to immediately step down.

Wajir senator Abdirahman Ali Hassan called for immediate resignation of the CS and the permanent secretary.

“The President should ask them to immediately step down, they should not even be in office from this morning,” Wajir senator Abdirahman Ali Hassan demanded.

“We can’t take matters lying down any more people must take political responsibility and step down,” he added.

He said it was very important for the CS to address Kenyans candidly and allay fears of the people and not to say that they are doing investigations.

Nominated Senator Zipporah Kittony said the country is tired of corruption cases and the two should step aside as investigations are carried out.

“The country is tired of these corruption cases. I’m sure even the President is tire. Let them immediately step aside as we wait for a report from the Auditor General,” Kittony said.

“The ministry of health is supposed to be a center for cure to people and not causing more problems,” she added.

The committee will now meet the CS on Tuesday next week over the matter. Machage said the committee will also conduct its own independent investigations over the matter.

“As the custodian of interests of the counties, we will not condone what is going on at the ministry of health especially where the lives of people are involved. Embezzlement of funds seems to be gaining popularity especially in public institutions,” Machage said.

According to the leaked audit report, the scandal involved payments of millions of shillings to phony suppliers in the financial year (2015/2016).

The auditors said the amounts lost could be higher because they have yet to complete work on the ministry’s transactions for the year.

“The small sample covered is an indicator that there could be a wider scheme wherein the ministry incurred huge losses to the detriment of service delivery to the public,” Mailu said yesterday in response to the report.

Top on the list of fraudulent transactions identified in the audit report was the diversion of Sh889 million meant to be disbursed to county governments to support the free maternity care programme and its use in the purchase of phantom mobile medical clinics for urban slums.

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