Ex-military chiefs in Jordan jets puzzle
Former Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) General (Rtd) Jeremiah Kianga and former Defence permanent secretary Zachary Mwaura have been entangled in the procurement of ghter jets worth Sh2.9 billion from Jordan, which were later found to be defective. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) heard that the aircraft, bought more than ten years ago from Royal Jordan Air Force for $29 million (Sh2.9 billion at current exchange rates), are now being used as spare parts for A 5 ghter jets. Defence principal secretary Saitoti Torome and Vice Chief of KDF Robert Kibochi for the second time managed to exclude the public from the hearing, arguing that the matter was classied and could not be discussed in the open. PAC chairman Opiyo Wandayi demanded to know the Defence PS and the Chief of KDF at the time the seven ghter jets were procured.
“We want to know who was the accounting officer in the ministry and the Chief of Kenya Defence Forces inline with article 226(5) of the constitution, which is clear on responsibility. we want to know this so that we can apportion blame if it is found that public money was applied wrong fully. who were the PS and the CDF at the time this procurement was undertaken?” Mr Wandayi asked. Here ada section of the constitutionthat stipulates that if the holder of a public office, including a political office, directs or approves the use of public funds contrary to law or instructions, they are liable for any loss arising from that use and shall make good the loss, whether they remain the holder of the office or not. “The PS then was Mr Zachary Mwaura and the Chief of Defence Forces was General Jeremiah Kianga.heis long retired. mrmw aura and General Kianga served during the years 2007 to 2009,” Mr Torome said. Asked whether General (Rtd) Kianga was still in public service, Lieutenant General Kibochi said he had left public office after serving as chairman of Kenya Railways. “He was the chair of kenya railways Corporation, but has since left,” Lt- Gen Kibochi said. Mr Torome told the committee that the purchase of military hardware was a sensitive matter. “Like we argued last time we handled this audit query, the ministry views this as a sensitive security matter and we are requesting that the issue be handled under classified information category,” Mr Torome said during the scrutiny of Ministry of Defence books of accounts for the year to June 2015. Auditor-general edw ar douko, in his audit report dated March 16, 2017, had questioned the purchase of defective fighter jets that he said were being used as spare parts. The KDF procured the seven aircraft 10 years ago through government-to-government negotiations in 2007. The purchase price of the aircraft recorded in contract no.rjaf/ Kaf /2007 dated april 26,2007 was US$15,291,503. Mr Ouko said technical assistance and maintenance services recorded in agreement No JAC/ Comm02/184-gokdatedapril27, 2007 were procured at $12,264,995. A direct procurement of supplementary services for the fleet re- corded in contract mosd/jac/s up pl/01/2008w assigned on january 30, 2009 for a sum of $2,883,561, Mr Ouko said. “An audit verification of the aircraft was carried out in june 2016 at Laikipia Air Base and…audit of fuel and servicing records indicate that seven aircraft have not been in operation from the time they were procured,” said Mr Ouko. Before the media was locked out of the Friday meeting, Mr Wandayi told the Defence ministry officials to provide details of individuals who sanctioned the procurement of the defective jets. He directed Mr Torome and Lt-gen Kibochi to provide the names of persons who sat in the ministerial tender committee (MTC), minutes that approved the procurement of the jets through restricted tendering and the technical acceptance documents. Mr Wandayi also asked them to provide a list of individuals who participated in the government-to-government negotiations leading to the procurement of the jets. He demanded a written response on the reasons that led to the procurement through government-to-government instead of the KDF procuring the aircraft on its own behalf since it has the technical capabilities. “In the old Procurement and Asset Deposal Act, 2005, there is no provision for government-to- government. Kindly guide us on what law you used to procure these aircraft,” Mr Wandayi said. A Mr C. K Muhia, the chief finance officer in the Ministry of Defence, used restricted tendering to procure the aircraft since they were security hardware.