Busia senator Okiya Omtatah has accused two Cabinet secretaries of embezzling over KES 17 billion in public funds to illegally purchase diesel fuel that is now being fought over.
In a damning press statement, Omtatah alleged that Cabinet Secretaries David Chirchir of Petroleum and Mining and Kipchumba Murkomen of Transport colluded with a private businesswoman, Anne Njeri, to steal the funds from the national treasury.
The saga started last week when Njeri filed a complaint claiming KES 17 billion worth of imported diesel she purchased was being stolen by the governments of Kenya and Saudi Arabia along with a local firm, Galana Energies. The two Cabinet secretaries then publicly countered that the fuel belonged to Galana, not Njeri.
“I have reason to suspect that Ms Njeri, who from all indications could not have raised the KES 17 billion which was used to purchase the fuel, is the ‘private financial enterprise’ funded that received the KES 17 billion from the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining,” Omtatah said in the statement. “And the contested shipment of oil is the product being used to launder the money through Galana Energies.”
An investigation by Omtatah found the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining withdrew over KES 42 billion from the Consolidated Fund last fiscal year without parliamentary approval, supposedly to subsidize unnamed private companies. A direct correlation was seen between KES 17 billion given in subsidies in June 2023 and the disputed KES 17 billion oil shipment.
Omtatah accused the ministry of inflating its original KES 5.9 billion budget approved by Parliament to over KES 20 billion to enable overspending without oversight. A subsequent KES 43 billion supplementary budget also exceeded the constitutional limit of a 10% increase, he said.
In total, Omtatah alleged over KES 63 billion was siphoned from public coffers in 2022-2023 to enrich unnamed individuals.
“This means that KES 63.3 billion was unconstitutionally withdrawn from public coffers purportedly to subsidise some unnamed private financial institutions,” Omtatah said.
Omtatah called on Chirchir and Murkomen to “stop fooling the nation and come clean” regarding their connection to Njeri and the alleged diesel racket.
“The government’s own paper trail demonstrates that the KES 17 billion diesel consignment was bought using money stolen from the Consolidated Fund,” he asserted.
The revelations come at a time when President William Ruto’s new administration has vowed to crack down on rampant corruption. However, the alleged diesel scam suggests graft remains deeply entrenched in government operations.
Omtatah has urged Parliament and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to launch probes to uncover the truth behind the saga.
Njeri has maintained she is the rightful owner of the contested diesel shipment.