A whiff of scam has hit the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) Director General Major General Mohamed Badi and Acting Governor Anne Kananu for authorising irregular payment of Sh410million to seventeen selectively picked law firms.
According to documents in our possession and a petition submit to the anti-graft body, all the questionable payments were processed between February 9, 2021 and March 30, 2021 with no information of the cases handled.
Documents presented to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (Eacc) show some firms received multiple payments in a single day without supportive evidence of the cases handled, letters of instruction and contract agreements, payment vouchers and cheque counterfoils and minutes of the pre-qualified law firms.
Investigations by The Informer established that Miller & Co Advocates received payments in two tranches in a single day on March 14, 2021 amounting Sh59.9million.
Similarly, Koceyo & Co. Advocates received two payments on the same day on March 16, 2021 of Sh10, 181,620 and Sh34, 587,435.85 totaling to Sh44.8million.
Others include; Professor Tom Ojienda & Associates (Sh46.7million), Mose, Mose & Milimo Associates (Sh52million), Letangule & Co. Advocates (Sh 32.6million) and Njenga Maina & Co. Advocates (Sh15million).
E.A.O Oyaro & Co. Advocates (Sh37million), K Macharia & Co Advocates (Sh16million), Kithi & Co. Advocates (Sh19.3million), Kwanga Mboya & Advocates (Sh18.1million), D. Njogu & Co. Advocates (Sh3.6million),
Interestingly, according to records in our possession, double payment of exact figures of Sh22, 821,493.65 in each transaction amounting to Sh45.6million was extended to Ario & Co. Advocates on March 16, 2021 and March 25, 2021 respectively.
The Nairobi county Minority Chief Whip Peter Imwatok has since called upon investigative agencies to probe ‘suspicious’ payments.
In a letter date April 27, 2021, Imwatok wrote to both Eacc and the Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji requesting a proper investigation into “fictitious payments” made to 17 law firms by Nairobi County.
“Did the Nairobi City County Government provide to yourselves the Specific files handled by the Law Firms above including details of the cases, letters of instructions and contract agreements between the year 2013 and 2020 as requested by yourselves?,” he wrote.
“It is not lost on us that some of the Advocates mentioned in the list herein above were the defenders of Mike Sonko both at the County Assembly and the Senate,”Imwatok said.
The MCA has threatened to take legal action should the EACC and DPP for failing to act on his letter.
In January this year, Eacc revealed it was investigating the payment of legal fees to 26 law firms worth Sh500 million.
In a letter dated January 21, 2021 , EACC asked the County Secretary to furnish it with the specific case files handled by the 26 law firms between 2013 and 2020, including details of the cases, letters of instructions and contract agreements.
The county assembly has over time lamented and raised concerns over money paid to legal firms. In the 2016-17 financial year report, former Auditor General Edward Ouko was concerned by the money that the legal department spent, citing Sh592.4 million unauthorized payments.
According to Ouko, the department paid 12 law firms Sh314.4 million.
The money was spent outside the Integrated Financial Management Information System.
In February 2019, the County Assembly Public Accounts Committee found that the legal department spent Sh480 million, more than four times the Sh100 million budgeted for.
The payments were made without documentary evidence.
In particular, a total of Sh318.4 million was paid to different lawyers without supporting documents.
MCAs have in the past flagged the legal department for colluding with law firms to siphon money from City Hall, noting in particular financial year 2018-19 when no case was handled by county lawyers.
Instead, 48 law firms were paid Sh795.9 million. Only eight of the firms presented fee notes.
Documents before the County Assembly Legal and Justice committee showed that 335 cases were handled by the legal department, with only 12 of them successful in the same period. The rest were either withdrawn or lost.
The committee questioned why Sh795.9 million was paid only to law firms yet the county’s allocation for the clearance of the pending bills in 2018-2019 was Sh2.5 billion.