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Court greenlights controversial CBK security surveillance deal

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) building in Nairobi: The dispute for supply and commissioning of an integrated security system (ISMS) started in May 2012 when CBK advertised the tender and awarded it to UK-based Horsebridge Networks Ltd. FILE PHOTO | NMG
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) building in Nairobi: The dispute for supply and commissioning of an integrated security system (ISMS) started in May 2012 when CBK advertised the tender and awarded it to UK-based Horsebridge Networks Ltd. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Court of Appeal has allowed the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to proceed with a Sh1.2 billion tender for security systems.

Appellate Judges Wanjiru Karanja, Martha Koome and GBM Kariuki dismissed an appeal by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) opposing the tender saying “it had not raised anything serious to warrant stopping the contract entered between CBK and Horsebridge Networks Systems Limited”.

“We have examined the case and find nothing wrong about the contract as ruled by both the Public Procurement Review Board and the High Court. EACC’s contentions lack merit since they have not provided us with any justification to interfere with the contract,” the ruling said.

The dispute for the supply and commissioning of an integrated security system (ISMS) started in May 2012 when CBK advertised the tender and awarded it to UK-based Horsebridge Networks Ltd.

However, the tender evaluation committee refused to approve the deal, forcing the company to file for a review at the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB).

The PPARB agreed with Horsebridge and directed the regulator to sign the contract.



Former CBK Governor Prof Njuguna Ndung'u. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU
Former CBK Governor Prof Njuguna Ndung'u. FILE PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

However, it was again delayed after the EACC began investigating the CBK over allegations that the deal was irregularly awarded, accusing former governor Prof Njuguna Ndung’u of directing the regulator's tender committee to ensure Horsebridge won.

"Investigations unfounded"

The UK-based firm then filed a case at the High Court on September 2014, where Justice Weldon Korir ruled that the EACC investigations were unfounded and again allowed CBK to proceed with the contract.

The anti-corruption watchdog then moved to the second highest court in the land, saying the High Court judge failed to recognise the flaws and irregularities pointed out during the procurement process.

The Appellate Judges have however disagreed with the EACC, saying Justice Korir was right in allowing the CBK to carry on with the deal.

“CBK is a public body and therefore had a statutory obligation to comply with the directions issued by both the review board and the High Court who had the first opportunity to interrogate the contract and cleared it of any irregularities,” Justices Wanjiru, Koome and Kariuki decided Friday.

The judges agreed with CBK that it should have signed the contract within 30 days as directed by the High Court, and that terminating the contract would only arise if the company had been informed in advance before the tender process was complete.

The Appellate Court said the procurement review board also made no mistake when they found that the tender process had been duly followed and that nothing could warrant its cancellation.

They agreed that the contract had already been executed and that whatever the EACC was investigating had been overtaken by events.

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