Former Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala was arrested on Thursday by detectives from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over his alleged involvement in a Ksh8 billion graft scandal.
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke on Friday, EACC Spokesperson Eric Ngumbi confirmed that the former CS was facing charges for fraudulent payments made during the construction of the Ronald Ngala Utalii College.
“There are too many (charges) but they all relate to the fraudulent payment of Ksh8.5 billion in the construction of Utalii College,” he stated.
Additionally, a report drafted in August 2023 by the anti-graft agency and obtained by Kenyans.co.ke, detailed that officials at the Ministry of Tourism extrapolated the cost of construction of the college by Ksh8.5 billion.
An artistic representation of the Ronald Ngala Utalii College in Kilifi County on Tuesday, March 28, 2023.
Initially, the mega project that is still under construction was to be undertaken at a cost of Ksh1.95 billion.
However, the project ended up costing taxpayers Ksh10.4 billion with the figures extrapolated by officials from the Tourism Fund.
“Investigations established that the Cabinet in its memo signed by the Minister for Tourism on May 22, 2007, and Minister for Finance on August 20, 2007, approved the construction of Utalii College in Vipingo at a cost of Ksh1.948 Billion.
“It was further established that not the whole amounts paid to the firms were legitimate, as the firms had been overpaid to a total of Ksh1,483,460,914.97,” read the report in part.
While EACC did not document the exact role Balala played in the alleged scandal, it was noted that the CS was facing 10 charges including abuse of office.
The former CS and his legal team have yet to address the matter.
Meanwhile, EACC is expected to transport Balala to Kilifi County where he will be arraigned before Malindi Law Courts.
According to the EACC, Balala faces;
- Five counts of wilful failure to comply with the law relating to procurement contrary to section 45 (2) (b) as read with section 48 (1) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003.
- Four counts of unlawful acquisition of public property contrary to section 45(1) (a) as read with section 48 (1) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003.
One count of abuse of office contrary to section 46 as read with section 48 (1) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, No. 3 of 2003.
A photo of the EACC headquarters, at Integrity House in Nairobi.