Companies

Death threats in Kemsa billions heist revealed

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Suspended Kenya Medical Supplies Authority director of commercial services Eliud Muriithi (left) with his lawyer Ken Melly during a Public Investments Committee hearing chaired by Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir on a special audit report on the use of Covid-19 funds on December 1, 2020. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

Summary

  • Suspended officials say unnamed people issued death threats to the Kemsa top executives if tenders for Covid kits were not issued to their preferred firms.
  • Documents tabled before the committee indicate  companies that won tenders in complete disregard of the law.

Investigations into the loss of billions of shillings for purchasing Covid-19 kits at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) took a new turn after a suspended official invoked the name of highly placed people in government who influenced the tenders.

They reckon that the unnamed people issued death threats to the Kemsa top executives if tenders for Covid kits were not issued to their preferred firms.

Suspended Kemsa procurement manager, Charles Juma told MPs that the former CEO Jonah Manjari was under pressure from people whom he only termed as “highly placed and influential” persons in government who insisted that certain companies must be awarded tenders even if they were not prequalified.

He told the National Assembly Public Investments Committee that the suspended CEO was a man under pressure and at one time confessed to him that there were highly placed people who had warned him against going according to their wish.

“The CEO told me that he has attended high level meetings with influential people who threatened him that if he does not act according to their wish…he would disappear,” Mr Juma told the committee.

“You don’t sit in this office. I’m under pressure to act in a particular way,” Mr Manjari is reported to have told Mr Juma.

Documents tabled before the committee indicate the companies that won tenders in complete disregard of the law include Regal Freighters, Northlink GSC Ltd, Meraky healthcare, LA Miguela Holdings Ltd, Shop and Buy Ltd, Midlife Biological Ltd and Komtel Kenya Ltd.

According to the commitment letters, Regal Freighters won tender to supply facemasks worth Sh270 million, Northlink GSC got tenders worth Sh135 million, Meraky Healthcare Sh140 million, La Miguela Holding Sh180 million, Shop ‘N’ Buy Sh900 million, while Medlife Biological got tender for Sh90 million.

Mr Juma said letters to the eight companies were issued by Mr Manjari who ignored and did not consult with the procurement department as is the norm with other companies.

“I was told some of the companies cannot be touched because the owners have influence at the Ministry of Health,” Mr Juma said.

The name of Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja was also dragged into the scandal after Mr Juma said on the day Mr Manjari ordered that a commitment letter be issued to Shop ‘N’ Buy, he was in the CEOs office.