Nick Mwendwa and Barry Otieno yesterday braved tense moments before the Senate committee on Labour and Social Welfare. They laid bare their fears that Sports Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed was poised to disband the Football Kenya Federation (FKF).
The national football governing body is in the eye of a storm over how it spent Sh244 million on the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals. The Senate committee has also asked the federation to explain the allegations that a further Sh11 million was paid in refunds directly into FKF President Mwendwa’s account without requisite documentation and approvals.
On Tuesday, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr raised concern over an “impromptu” audit of FKF by officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and National Intelligence Service, terming it inappropriate.
The Social Welfare committee, chaired by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja, invited FKF, the Sports CS and interested parties to appear before it yesterday.
CS Amina, however, asked to appear before it next Thursday, which the committee agreed to.
Mwendwa and FKF CEO Otieno appeared yesterday and came face to face with journalist Milton Nyakundi and Suba Churchill, the co-ordinator of the National Civil Society Congress, who set the tone by tabling an array of questions they said the football chiefs should respond to.
Key among the issues Nyakundi and Churchill raised were the alleged direct transfer of funds from FKF accounts to an individual’s account, and the fate of Sh125 million paid for an Outside Broadcasting van to the now dissolved British company WTS Media Group Ltd, and which was not delivered.
While FKF acknowledged it was open to inspection in accordance with Section 52 of the Sports Act, Mwendwa and Otieno took exception to the manner in which the exercise was conducted.
“Chair, we only learnt of the order of the inspection through the media. There was no notice, which is against the laws of natural justice,” Otieno told the committee.
“In spite of that, we co-operated even as some of the people who came could not identify themselves, only saying the nature of their job does not allow them to do so.”
Mwendwa echoed Otieno’s concerns, saying they read malice in the inspection process.
“The manner in which it was done suggests the whole exercise is predetermined. In my five years as the head of the federation, we have been audited five times and that is why Fifa continues to fund our activities. We have also been accounting for government funds and no questions have been raised,” he said.
Sakaja, however, sought to know from the FKF officials the basis of their fears, adding that no organisation, including the Ministry of Sports, can avoid inspection.
“Section 52 of the Sports Act does not compel the Registrar to issue a notice, for its says, ‘The Registrar may, at any time, or if so directed by the Cabinet Secretary, cause an inspection to be made by any person authorised by the Registrar …,” the Nairobi senator said.
Otieno had also raised concern that the Registrar had not granted them an opportunity to answer to questions following the inspection.
Sakaja, however, allayed those fears, telling the officials that the Sports Act is clear in Section 53 that the Registrar by law must give them reasonable opportunity to be heard.
“When was the inspection completed?” Sakaja asked, to which he was notified of November 2.
“So why are you (Mwendwa and Otieno) worried when it was only the other day. I think you should wait. I direct that the Sports Registrar also appears before this Committee,” Sakaja said.
Committee member Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot asked the FKF officials to prepare to answer to the allegations raised by Nyakundi and Churchill, urging them also to reflect on concerns raised by Kenyans regarding the management of football.
Sakaja informed the parties that they would be called back for another session.
Those present at the hearing included committee members Beatrice Kwamboka, Susan Kihika and Mwaruma Johnes (vice chairperson), as well as senators Kipchumba Murkomen, Samson Cherargei and Olekina Ledama.