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Looming arrests: Will the slippery energy PS Joseph Njoroge escape this again?

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(Energy PS Dr Eng Joseph Njoroge)

The month of February and subsequent ones will not be easier for those who have been mentioned in corruption allegations cases. According to sources from DCI and other multi agency, the following cases will take the lead; one, the anti leak detector rejection scandal that has resulted in spillage, frequent major leaks on the Sh48 billion pipeline, exposing KPC to losses of billions of shillings through fuel siphoning.

Detectives are reportedly shocked to learn that Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) refused to spend only sh400 million on installation of Anti leak detection system to save the country billions that is lost through fuel siphoning.

Instead, the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) wanted to procure a Sh2 billion ($20 million) oil leak detection system after rejecting an offer of Sh400 million ($4 million) by Zakehm International, the contractor who built the 450-kilometre line.

The pipeline, which cost taxpayers billions of shillings to install, transports a million litres per hour.

In August 10, 2018 cartels had a pipe burst where they fixed a valve on Kenya pipeline from Nairobi to Kisumu and siphoned thousands of liters. This happened after a firm known as Zakehm International had advised the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) to install a leak detection system on its new pipeline. Zakehm was the main contractor in the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi pipeline also known as Line 5.

“From the early stages of construction, Zakhem advised KPC on several occasions the need to install the leak detection system. KPC did consider this for a while and later canceled. This system would have deterred the reported attack on the line by thieves tunneling and puncturing the line to steal products and cause leakages,” said the company in a statement.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) are said to have also concluded a probe on a tender variation where the above firm had demanded an extra Sh4.4 billion for delays experienced in the construction of the Sh48 billion pipeline.

It’s alleged that the names of deputy President William Ruto, CS Charles Keter, former Managing Director of Kenya Power and Lighting Company and now PS Energy Joseph Njoroge and a number of top KPC managers are featuring prominently in this scandal.

Those on the know claim that close relation of Ps Joseph Njoroge with the first lady Margaret Kenyatta has allegedly been the stumbling block on many graft cases in the energy ministry.

Not long ago, a Kenyan by the name Justus Rotich accused the DPP of deliberately expunging the name of PS Joseph Njoroge when the DPP charged the former MD’s successors, Ken Tarus and Ben Chumo.

“The respondent (DPP) selectively omitted to investigate or charge Dr Joseph Njoroge, the current PS Energy and Petroleum, who served as managing director from 2007 to May 2013 when some of the alleged procurement offences were committed,” Justus said

Chumo, Tarus and the team were recently charged with conspiracy to defraud contrary to Section 317 of the Penal Code, conspiracy to commit an offence of economic crime contrary to Section 47 A (3), abuse of office and conspiracy to defeat justice in the purchase of substandard transformers worth over Sh409 million.

The same had been the case when a witness by the name Linus Ndegwa was accused by lawyer Katwa Kigen of ommiting PS Njoroge’s name in the Sh409 million Kenya Power (KP) scandal involving purchase of substandard transformers.

On the anti leak detector system; it is alleged that a senior politician who is currently having trouble with the state had his way in ensuring that the anti leak detector system was not put in place as he is claimed to be one of the beneficiaries of the leak which is actually the fuel siphoning.

Detectives are said to have finalized on this matter “and soon the truth will come out.”

The Chief Administration Secretary, Ministry of Public Service and Gender Rechel Schebesh recently alluded that soon, the corruption cases touching on money meant for roads construction, maize, Kenya power, NHIF will be revisited and those behind them arrested and charged.

“Soon the time will come when the country will know why they are suffering economically” Shebesh said at a function in Homa Bay.

The Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) MD and CEO Bernard Ngugi was overheard last week lamenting that KPLC has run out of transformers, fuses and transformer coils. It’s said, the money meant for the supply of the above were diverted to the token vending companies such as Dynamo, vendit that are allegedly owned by one William Ruto. The over five companies are operating like Jambo pay. They collect money for KPLC tokens

Before Kenya Power and Lighting Company barred third party vendors handling tokens in part of changes to tackle widespread billing fraud that has been threatening the firm, the consumers had really suffered wrong billing.

It’s not clear why the detectives have not opened the lid on the billing fraud I but instead let loose the billing system fraud II.

In a media briefs, done few weeks ago, the detectives drawn from the DCI headquarters, the forensic experts and criminal intelligence officers with the help of KPLC auditors unearthed a syndicate in the billing system which involves post and prepay system.

Post pay system was installed in 1997 as an Integrated Customer Service and it operated till 2017. It carries several activities including one time charge (OTC) to manage customers satisfaction.

Investigators noted that the OTC is one of the most abused system by KPLC employees between the period of 2013 and early 2018. Detectives found out that KPLC employees colluded with an organized criminal activities where KPLC employees sustained outsiders who were non employees, granted them access to the KPLC system to manipulate the Integrated Customer Service to the benefit of the willing customers.

According to detectives, these non KPLC employees entered the ICS system through the Virtual Private Network to manipulate bills without physically visiting the KPLC offices.

This is a case that Advocate Apollo Mboya of Apollo and Co. Advocates handled extensively in court.

Mr Apollo filed a class action suit against Kenya Power in January 2018, accusing KPLC of abusing its monopoly and dominance, false and misleading representations of electricity tariffs and bills through guesswork thus infringing on consumers’ rights and further questioned the constitutionality of the monopoly of Kenya Power.

Apollo’s attention to KPLC scandal began on their 2017 financial year report where sh10.1 billion was not put as a loss nor billed in the previous year and why the company factored it as money that is set to be recovered in the next financial year.

He was suspecting that Kenya Power was likely to keep on billing the consumers and that there was no indication that KPLC would stop billing for this money on consumers as it could go upto sh40 billion or more.

He asked the court who took the decision of not factoring in the sh10.1 billion in the previous fanancial year.

It’s during that period that Energy CS Charles Keter, while acting on the advise of PS Joseph Njoroge, issued a statement that KPLC should cease relying on bill estimates.

“The CS should confine himself to policy issues and not enter the operational issues” Mboya reacted.

The case ended through out-of-court deal.

Other than overbilling, estimation of bills, reduction of token units, mulfunction of equipments that were raised by Advocate Apollo Mboya, the detectives took keen interest on the manipulation of integrated customer service under One Time Charge (OTC).

One Gilbert Mutai, a KPLC system Administrator then based at South Nyanza ICT Office created a user by the name Edgar Odhiambo Ojienda (Non KPLC staff) in the active Directory.

Ojienda was an employee of KPLC Contractor known as Broken Masters agencies between 2014 and 2017 when the biggest fraud was witnessed in KPLC. The company had been contracted by KPLC for design and construction of power lines.

Ojienda who was based in Kisii with a network spread to Nynaza and several other counties including western, central and rift valley, recruited a number of point persons.

One successful case cited by detectives includes how he fraudulently rebilled an account belonging to DM Concrete to a tune of sh3.6 million at a cost of sh.1.2 million as kickback.

Through this syndicate, KPLC lost sh65 million for a period of about 10 months, this can translate into billions for the period these cartels operated.

Detectives believe that there are top officials from KPLC and the ministry who are involved in this syndicate. Kenyans will soon know who these godfathers are.

A different syndicate that included KPLC IT staff and management ensured token validation system was not installed.

KPLC has a system called RADIS in its main server, EVGE. Once customers pay for tokens through mobile money, the information is sent to RADIS for verification before the token is sent back to the customer as a text message.

In order for a token to be generated, RADIS has to receive the customer’s name, meter number, amount paid, and the mobile money transaction reference number.

“Fraudsters knew that Kenya Power did not have a validator to know if it was receiving genuine transactions from M-Pesa. This was in case a customer complained that their tokens had not been generated through 888880,” detectives said in a report.

The code 888880 is the paybill number that prepaid customers use to pay via M-Pesa.

“There was a failure to create a validator and this was a design to create a loophole for stealing,” says the DCI. “Rogue individuals altered genuine M-Pesa reference numbers by replacing the last digit and consequently generating irregular tokens and selling the same.”

At the heart of the scheme, DCI says, was a programme developer who worked under ICT acting general manager at Kenya Power. The mastermind of the scam, detectives believe, was a Mr Albert Komen, who was in 2017 identified by the Banking Fraud Unit as one of the leading online fraudsters in Kenya.

Komen is among those who orchestrated the loss of Ksh3.9 billion ($39 million) by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

Also, the KPLC staff were replacing tokens of faulty metres that did not exist. Fake employees were created and given rights to search for customers whose meters had been made to intentionally reject tokens. Once identified, the customers were made to negotiate for the tokens at a lower price. More than 2,000 customers benefited from the scam.

Another syndicate are also behind the high bills and prolonged blackouts that have become the order of the day for KPLC customers across the country including parts of Nairobi.

As if the blackouts are not enough, there is intentional abnormal billings that runs into several thousands per month. Those who have been paying Sh1,000 per month are now billed Sh9,000 and more.

There is also rise of illegal connectivity that are done by KPLC staff.

All these are happening at the watch of Energy PS Joseph Njoroge, a former MD and CEO at Kenya Power.

Other scandals that happened at the PS Njoroge’s watch include KPC inflation of contracts that Kenyans lost sh95 billion, the Ketraco scandal where sh6.3 billion disappeared, lake Turkana wind power sh5 billion, KPC oil Jetty sh1.8 billion, Geothermal development contract sh3.3 billion, KPC pricing scandal that cost tax payers over sh4.4 billion, KPC oil spillage scandal that stood at sh2.5 billion, KPLC contract scandal where sh4.5 billion were lost

President Kenyatta is keen on his fight against corruption. He has repeatedly said that the duty of leaders is to protect public resources and not to loot what is entrusted to them.

“Whoever has misused money meant to benefit members of the public must pay in a hard way,” the President has repeatedly said.

This could be why, no one will be spared in KPC and KPLC including this slippery man.

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