Wario, Ekai set to be sued over Rio 2016 Scandal

Ministry of Sports, Culture and the Arts Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Hassan Wario and his Principal Secretary, Dr. Richard Ekai are facing prosecution over the Rio 2016 Olympics scandal.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keriako Tobiko is set to prefer charges against the top officials at the Sports Ministry following the fiasco that saw a huge chunk of the almost Ksh600m budget for the Rio Olympics and kit belonging to Team Kenya misappropriated or stolen.

Should the prosecution stand, Wario and Ekai will join four National Olympics Committee of Kenya (Nock) bosses who are already facing charges over the scandal that marred Kenya’s best ever performance at the Olympics where the track and field team won six gold, six silver and a bronze.

Wario and Ekai face charges of abuse of office as the people who should bear the greatest responsibility over the scandal that made international headlines and shamed a nation according to a letter dated January 12 and sent by the DPP to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss, Ndegwa Muhoro.

Wario chaired the Central Management Committee for the Rio 2016 Games that was made up of officials from his ministry and Nock to oversee the distribution of monies allocated for the qualification, preparation and participation of the team at the quadrennial global showpiece.

Reports said the Committee met only thrice with the Minister chairing the first gathering and Ekai the other two where most of the decisions on the fiscal allocations were made according to the Minister who has kept a low profile since the scandal broke.

Tobiko has also recommended Haron Koech, a Director of Administration at the ministry who had the Authority to Incur Expenditure to be charged for failing to stem the payment of bloated bonuses to Nock and ministry officials who attended the Games, some who travelled without defined roles in the team.

The so called joyriders included relatives of top ministry and Nock officials with the DPP further urging the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission and the Asset Recovery Authority to be roped in with an aim of recovering any ill-gotten wealth from the scandal.

Citizen Digital can affirm DCI Officers handling the investigations has been going around Nairobi gathering evidence from those perceived to have benefited illegally from the Rio Games at the expense of athletes who were mistreated.

According to Chapter 6 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, any public official accused of corruption or abuse of office should step down to pave way to investigations and Tobiko made it clear in his letter Wario and fellow top officers should be compelled to vacate their positions.

On August 25 last year- only three days after curtains came down on Rio 2016- a tough speaking Wario disbanded Nock and named the Rio 2016 Probe Committee that took 38 days to collect evidence into the scandal and prepare a report.

Leaked sections of the findings that are yet to be formally made public and presented to President Uhuru Kenyatta who ordered the investigations in the first place by Wario exonerated the Minister from misdeeds but Ekai was found complicit in the scandal.

Ekai protested his innocence saying the report was forwarded to the President without passing through him as the chief accounting officer at the ministry as he claimed a plot to pin the blame on his lapel by his boss Wario.

In his New Year Day address to nation, President Uhuru who is battling to stem runaway corruption in his Government put those responsible for the Rio 2016 fiasco on notice saying it was one of the cases his administration would pursue to the end and bring the culprits to book.

Having survived a Cabinet reshuffle in 2015, the DPP’s recommendations to sue Wario places the Minister on the spot to step aside.

Already, Team Kenya Head of Mission Stephen arap Soi and his Nock Executive Committee counterparts- First Vice-president, Ben Ekumbo, Second Vice-president, Pius Ochieng and Secretary General, Francis Kinyili Paul are out on Ksh200,000 bail each after being charged with various counts of abuse of office, misappropriation of funds and theft of kit.

A fifth Nock official, Treasurer Fridah Shiroya was initially arrested but released to become a State witness in the case against her colleagues.

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