Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri on Tuesday differed with his boss, Cleopa Mailu, over a letter sent to the Treasury asking for the transfer of internal auditor Bernard Muchere.
Mr Muchere is the auditor who raised queries on Sh5 billion irregular payments at Afya House currently under investigation by different government agencies.
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Health in different sittings, Dr Muraguri did not deny writing a letter to the Treasury secretary, Henry Rotich, but said he did not specify who exactly he wanted moved.
The committee chairman, Wilfred Machage, had wondered during the grilling whether the multi-billion shilling scam at the ministry could have informed Dr Muraguri’s wish to have the internal auditor moved.
“I did not ask for a particular person to be moved and there is no letter proving that,” said Dr Muraguri.
“I asked for a senior qualified person, someone who could be more conversant with bigger ministries — there are more senior persons than him.”
What is intriguing is the coincidence of the letter written at a time when Dr Mailu had just commissioned the internal audit.
Dr Mailu told the Senate that he only learnt later that there were attempts to transfer Mr Muchere, who had been posted to the ministry in April by the Treasury.
He said that his CS did not copy the letter to him and that he only received a letter from Mr Rotich saying that Mr Muchere’s term at the ministry would end in November 2016, after which another internal auditor was to be posted.
“Upon inquiry, I called my colleague at Treasury (CS Rotich) who said that he had received a lot of requests including that from PS (Dr Muraguri) to have the internal auditor transferred. I let the matter lie and continued to do my work,” said Dr Mailu.
“I want this committee to digest that information but I won’t comment further.”
Last week, it emerged that Dr Muraguri wanted the internal auditor, who his peers know for his meticulous work, transferred from the ministry after getting wind that he was on a muckraking mission to unearth the ministry’s questionable expenditure.
Dr Muraguri’s concern was that the internal auditor was constantly producing qualified audit reports on the ministry’s spending and that “his reports were reportedly causing trouble with donors over the huge funds that the ministry handles every year”.
Government internal audit records show that Mr Muchere is an experienced professional who has led a number of high-profile audits, including the Ronald Ngala Utalii College scam and the Sh791 million NYS theft.