According to a task force report, Bungoma County is the scene of a massive scam that might cost hundreds of millions of shillings.
The task force set up by Governor Ken Lusaka two months ago to review the administration of the Education Scholarship Fund, which was launched in 2018, found significant irregularities, including instances of ghost students, overpayments to schools, and a large number of undeserving students reaping the benefits while the poor were left out.
The audit that was conducted on 46 out of 522 beneficiary schools revealed alleged shady practices. 524 phantom students received the Ksh. 35,000 scholarship in six of the sampled institutions, potentially causing a loss of more than Ksh. 19 million from the fund set up by the previous administration in 2018.
For instance, Kibabii High School reported 409 students enrolled when there were really 521, a disparity of 119 pupils. Each student received a Ksh. 35,000 bursary, but it is still unclear what happened to the Ksh. 4.1 million that was dispersed.
At Teremi High School, which also received Ksh.3.9 million for 113 fake students, the scenario was reproduced.
The scenario at Kapsokwony Boys is unchanged; 62 ghost students collected Ksh. 2.1 million.
The research also demonstrates that the fund’s recipients were incorrectly identified, resulting in the denial of eligible cases while awarding scholarships to questionable ones.
Further investigation revealed that 7 children had been transferred but their prior schools were still receiving funding, proving that the original beneficiary list had also been tampered with.
Additionally, it was determined that the county continued to cover 18 children whose parents had fully paid their tuition and 11 others whose tuition had been covered in full by another sponsor.
According to the report, there were correspondingly 62, 17 and 39 students who could not be located at Chebukaka Girls Secondary School, Chesamisi Boys, and Kibuk Girls High School.
The fact that money was paid through checks rather than IFMIS, putting it vulnerable to abuse, shocked the governor.
“We must recover that money ili watu wa Bungoma wapate value for money,” declared Lusaka. “Tutafanya hiyo ripoti yoti ya Bungoma imeenda na nani.”
More fraud was discovered during an audit of outstanding bills, including the payment of ghost projects, unauthorized contract modifications, and selective payment of outstanding bills.
According to the county administrator, “the committee discovered payments made for non-existent projects, claims were not backed by credible documented evidence, case in point there was payment of six roads supported by the identical set of images as evidence.”
The taskforce also conducted a human resources assessment and discovered that several underqualified individuals had been employed in various departments.
The governor is now requesting that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) look into the reports and take appropriate action against anyone connected to the multi-million dollar corruption network.