Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia is on the spot for alleged corruption cover up involving Sh442,000 by the director of Aircraft Accident Investigation Department (AAID) Captain Martyne Lunani at a time the government is grappling to fight the vice.
In a correspondence obtained by The Informer, Macharia “pardoned” Lunani for financial malpractice after internal audit found the captain attempted to defraud the ministry the money through falsified documents surrendered as imprest.
Through a letter dated April27, 2016, Macharia put Lunani’s integrity in doubt afterinvestigations revealed the claims were false but overlook the fault with just a warning that he should not repeat that in future. Lunani made imprest surrender of Sh442,000 for a seven days official investigation trip to South Sudan but it was later established he was there for just one day.
“Such an act demonstrated lack of financial integrity on your part. You are required to demonstrate a high degree of integrity and be an ambassador of the Government on the fight against corruption. In the view of this, you are hereby pardoned and warned against a repetition of such a deed in future,” Macharia said in a letter dated April 27 in our possession.
According to sources from the ministry, Lunani traveled to South Sudan to investigate the sites where Kenyan-registered aircraft crashed. Interestingly, Lunani admitted the fraud and opted to refund the money and issued a cheque number 253856 of Sh442, 888.
Senior officers in the ministry have raised queries why the Cabinet Secretary never referred the matter to institutions mandated to deal with graft like the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (Eacc) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Lunani’s department is mandated to investigate all accidents and serious incidents involving all civil registered aircraft that may occur within and outside Kenya but involving Kenyan registered aircraft.
Six months later, Lunani was mandated to investigate the circumstances surrounding the police helicopter crashes.
Through a Kenya Gazette Notice number 8597 dated October 13, the CS appointed Captain Lunani as the Investigator-in-Charge, leading a team of five other experts to investigate the events that that could have led to the two police helicopter accidents.
Both AgustaWestland AW139 registration 5Y-NPS and Bell registration number 5Y-COP had crashed at Mathare and Wilson Airport respectively.
The team was also to establish the extent of compliance with the technical as well as the operational standards and procedures, the extent of damage in terms of cost and loss of the two helicopters, and also the extent of injury to the crew on board.
The team, expected to release their findings mid-January, are also expected to establish any other factors deemed relevant to mitigate similar accidents in future.
Investigations into most of the air crashes involving Kenyan registered aircraft within or outside the country have not been launched, with investigators yet to access the crash sites of some of them.
The wreckage of some planes are still at the scenes, with some vital components needed for investigations lying uncollected.
In accordance with the provisions of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) which Kenya is a signatory, the Annex 13 states that investigations into the probable causes of accidents be investigated by the country in which the accident occurred.