THE "secret" Kiambu bank account through which the judiciary allegedly received donor cash existed for only seven days before it was closed, the Star can reveal. Documents seen by the Star show that the account was opened on July 24 through a letter by Chief Registrar of the judiciary Gladys Shollei and was closed on August 1, again through a letter by Shollei.
The signatories to the account included Shollei, Judicial Training Institute director Judge Joel Ngugi and Judiciary Finance Director Ben Omollo. The account was called Judiciary Training Insitute-Ford Foundation and was meant to receive $1 dollar (Sh85 million) grant. It was opened to circumvent bureaucratic red tape associated with involving the Treasury in getting grants.
"Reference is made to our letter requesting the opening of an account with your bank. We wish to close the account JTI-FF (Donor) until further notice. Thank you for your continued support," reads Shollei's letter to manager Kenya Commercial Bank, Kiambu Branch dated August 1. The Kiambu account is at heart of a petition filed by advocate Edwin Sifuna seeking the removal of Justice Mumbi Ngugi.
The petition is premised on leaked emails in which the judge narrates to Chief Justice Willy Mutunga how Omollo reversed a decision to receive the grant at the account.
According to the documents, Omolo had been tasked with the opening of the account but suddenly changed his mind and insisted that the judiciary needed a financing agreement with the government before the grant was received.
"Ideally the agreement is signed before accounts are opened and the funds received from the donor," Omolo wrote on July 26.
He claimed the judiciary was also in the process of setting up an Integrated Financial Management and Information System and a Central Bank account was necessary to operate effectively and efficiently.
JTI, which had procured the grant, was however cautious about operating the account from CBK as it would subject it to long bureaucratic processes and activities for spending the money were already lined up.
"The expenditures we are talking about are actually due next week so we need urgent stop gap measures. Prof Ali Mazrui arrives early next week for a series of events. His visit is funded from this grant," Ngugi wrote on August 6 after the account had been closed.