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Dead Siaya MCA listed in Uganda trip



Investigations by the anti-graft agency into a controversial trip by Siaya MCAs to Uganda took a shocking twist after it emerged that a dead member was listed among those who travelled to Jinja, Uganda, in February.

It had been alleged that 41 members of the County Assembly stage-managed the trip.

They are accused of having their passports stamped at the border and then returning home without attending a workshop in Uganda, a matter now under investigation.

But the inclusion of Mr Joanes Andiego Odongo’s in the list of those who are said to have been on the trip has come as a shock.

Odongo was the Central Sakwa MCA at the time of his death and had also served as the Majority Whip at the Assembly.

He died on May 17, 2018 after a long battle with liver and kidney complications.

He was later succeeded by his son Charlton Andiego in the subsequent by-election.

The county assembly has now rushed to defend itself alleging a mix-up in the names.

However, a payment schedule the county assembly provided to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigators shows that the late MCA made the trip and was paid all the allowances.

According to the document dated January 21, 2019 and signed by the assembly clerk, a total of 43 MCAs had been proposed to attend a benchmarking-cum-training at the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (LVFO) in Jinja, from February 1 to 15.

During the stay, each one was to pocket Sh136,144 and a further transport allowance of Sh10,000 except the Speaker, who in the document is indicated was to receive Sh184,346.

On Thursday, EACC spokesman Yasin Amaro told the Nation that it was shocking that corruption had moved a notch higher from those listed as ghost workers to dead travellers.

“Apart from our own sources of information, EACC relies on documents that are relevant to the subject of investigations and such documents are sourced from individuals or organisations under investigation, ” he said.

But County Assembly Speaker George Okode, when contacted, claimed that that the list had errors and accused the EACC of engaging in sideshows.

“EACC is engaging in unnecessary drama. Do they have evidence that the dead MCA’s name was used to get money? Do they have evidence that he was captured as having travelled?

“Why are they not focusing their attention on who was actually paid because the issue here is about a trip that never was,” the Speaker argued.

“I have all the recordings, including pictures of the facilitators who took the MCAs through the four-day training and anybody who needs to verify the same can access the evidence,” he added.

“In fact we are happy with the turn the investigation is taking. We are buoyed by the new development ” he added.

Mr Okode told the Nation on phone on Thursday that as a requirement for controls on foreign trips, MCAs were expected to get clearance from the Ministry of Devolution and while doing so, the secretariat that was organising the trip could have generated the erroneous list by mistake.

“When I asked the clerk, who keeps the records he told me that the list had been generated and sent to the ministry for clearance and it was only realised later that it had some errors “ said Mr Okode.

The Speaker further said that the list, which is among several other documents that the EACC has obtained for the probe, originated from the county assembly.

“If he passed on, how did his name appear in the list of those proposed to travel by the assembly? This list was prepared by the assembly and was sent to the Devolution ministry for approval. Between the EACC investigators and the assembly, who was best-placed to know the MCA was dead or alive?” he posed.

Mr Okode said the assembly organised three trips to Uganda. He attended the first one alongside nine other MCAs and the second trip which was to be attended by 30 members flopped due to lack of proper coordination.

“During the second trip, the MCAs went to Uganda but they were forced to come back immediately because the team in Uganda couldn’t receive them due to planning hitches, ” he claimed.

After the second trip failed, Mr Okode said, they planned a third one, which he was part of, and even opened the four-day engagement but came back the following day because he was not paid.

The others who remained behind were also not paid because they used the money they ought to have used in the second trip that failed, he said.

Mr Okode added that four people, among them two members of the assembly’s Public Service Board who had been paid but did not attend the trip, were surcharged.

The EACC has summoned 41 Siaya MCAs to shed light on the controversial trip.

The ward reps are expected to appear before the detectives in Kisumu from Monday next week to be questioned and to record statements.

According a letter from the agency dated July 31 and addressed to the assembly clerk, the MCAs were asked to bring the original travel documents (passports) they used during the trip.

While confirming the matter, Mr Amaro told the Nation that the lawmakers are expected to provide information that will enable the anti-graft agency to establish whether the said trip took place as claimed.


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Flights to be delayed as JKIA, Wilson airports to be closed for an hour on Jamhuri Day



Flights to and from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Wilson Airport are expected to be delayed for an hour as the two airports will be closed on Thursday as Kenyans mark Jamhuri Day celebrations.

Flight 540 has advised its customers that the two airports will be closed for an hour between 11am and 12pm hence affecting the normal programming or causing delays.

“Due to Jamhuri Day celebrations, no flights will be allowed to take off or land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport between 11am and 12pm. If you will be traveling with us on that date, your flight might be delayed,” read the advisory.

The notice also added that the passengers who will be affected with the closure will be advised accordingly, with a pledge that they will be contacted on the way forward.

This is not the first time JKIA is being closed for the celebrations.

In 2016, the airport was also closed for an hour, from 11.20am to allow the military to perform drills in preparation for the Jamhuri Day celebrations.

A similar incident happened in 2017 when JKIA was temporarily shut down causing delayed flights.

This years’ Jamhuri Day celebrations will be held at Nyayo Stadium in commemoration of 56 years of Kenya’s independence.


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US athlete who inspired ‘ice bucket challenge’ dies



A former US college baseball player who helped inspire the global phenomenon known as the “ice bucket challenge” to tackle a deadly neurodegenerative disease has died at the age of 34, his family said Monday.
A one-time college athlete from the Boston area, Pete Frates’ struggle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, was one of the inspirations behind the ice bucket challenge which took social media by storm in 2014.

Millions took up the challenge which involved dousing themselves with a bucket of ice cold water and posting the video online, before making a donation to medical research and daring others to do the same.

A galaxy of celebrities, high-profile personalities and entire sports teams took part in the challenge, including Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates and even former US president George W. Bush.

The campaign has reportedly raised more than $200 million to fund research into ALS, whose sufferers’ bodies slowly shut down as their nervous systems degenerate.

The condition, officially known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is more commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease after another baseball player who died of it in 1941.

“Pete passed away surrounded by his loving family, peacefully at age 34, after a heroic battle with ALS,” his family said in a statement.

“Remarkably, Pete never complained about his illness. Instead, he saw it as an opportunity to give hope to other patients and their families, the statement said.

Frates’ friend Corey Griffin, a 27-year-old philanthropist who was instrumental in helping the fund-raising campaign go viral, died in a swimming accident shortly after the online phenomenon took off.


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VIDEO-Diaspora meet to address Big Four Agenda



Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who is also the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development, will be among prominent leaders who will address the Diaspora convention which is taking place in Nairobi between December 17, 2019 and December 19, 2019 at the Ole Sereni Hotel.

Speaking to the Nation in Nairobi, the President of Kenya Diaspora Alliance (KDA) Shem Ochuodho said among the keynote speakers will be Mr Siddharth Chatterjee UN Resident Coordinator, Danish Ambassador to Kenya Mette Knudsen and Mr Jerome Otieno, Group MD Life, UAP Old Mutual, East Africa.

Prior to the 2017 General Elections, Mr Odinga championed diaspora issues, especially voting rights for Kenyans living abroad.

Dr Ochuodho said the theme for this year’s convention is “Diaspora: The Big Four Agenda”.

On the recently launched Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report, Dr Ochuodho said despite its many flaws, it at least promises to address contentious issues contained in the dual citizenship clause in the Constitution.

“One is that they are talking of doing away with restrictions on dual citizens holding public offices, or to be State officers. Secondly, it is also talking about finding ways in which diaspora can be infused and incentivised to invest at home,” he said.

BY Nation


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