By Silas Apollo
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has defended its decision to pay Sh1.5 billion for the acquisition of the Integrity Centre Building in Nairobi, following concerns from the office of the Auditor-General that the transaction was done outside the law.
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EACC chief executive officer Twalib Mbarak says that the transaction was above board, despite questions by the Auditor-General’s office that payments for the buildings were made without documents from the seller.
Mbarak, who appeared before the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, further argued that no funds were lost during the transaction.
The EACC CEO had appeared before the Committee to answer to audit queries from the audited financial books for the Financial Year 2020/21.
PAC had raised concerns over the manner in which the commission made the payments, with members of the committee grilling the Commission on its conduct and financial position.
During a session chaired by Funyula MP Wilberforce Oundo, Mbarak was questioned at length over the payment of Sh1,518,00,000 for the building, despite the seller’s failure to provide crucial documents.
“The Auditor-General noted that the Commission paid Sh1,518,000,000 to the National Lands Commission for compulsory acquisition of the Integrity Centre. However, a letter from the State Department for Public Works valid ownership documents were not availed,” read part of the report.
Furthermore, the report presented to the Committee revealed that the development plans submitted by the National Lands Commission (NLC) to the EACC were rejected due to missing structural details, architectural drawings, and services drawings.
The provided structural drawings had not been approved by the Nairobi County government as required.
As a result, effective planning for essential electro-mechanical services, refurbishment, and redevelopment of the Centre were impeded.
The report also pointed out that it was impossible to determine whether the Commission obtained value for public funds used in the acquisition process of the Integrity Centre due to the lack of essential documentation.
In light of these findings, Jon Oundo questioned the urgency behind the Commission’s decision to make payments for the project without obtaining the required documents as mandated by the law.
“The speed at which money was released for the projects without required documents being availed to the buyer is what has led to the audit query. Why were you in a hurry to acquire the building?” asked Oundo.
Lugari MP Nabii Nabwera expressed disappointment over the involvement of a body responsible for fighting corruption and ensuring prudent use of public resources in questionable transactions.
In his response Mbarak defended the Commission, asserting that no money was lost in the acquisition of the building adding that all the necessary documents were eventually received by the Commission on April 26, 2022, and forwarded to the Public Works department for authentication.
“The Department confirmed that the building was adequately designed and supervised by competent structural engineers who advised the Commission to settle the outstanding balance which it did,” Mbarak said.