A former official of the Public Service Commission (PSC) has denied asking former ICT Principal Secretary Sammy Itemere to request the Government Advertising Agency (GAA) to place its advertisements in a newspaper owned by Lugari MP Ayub Savula.
Dr Alice Atieno Otwala, the PSC’s former chief executive and a commissioner of the National Police Service Commission, denied in court on Wednesday that she wrote a letter on the placement of the advertisements in The Sunday Express.
Dr Otwala also denied instructing the PSC’s former Deputy director of Communication, Victor Achola, to write the letter to Mr Itemere on April 22, 2016.
The former CEO was the third witness to testify in the case Sh122 million graft case against Mr Achola, Mr Itemere, Mr Savula and his two wives Hellen Kemboi and Melody Gatwiri and 25 others.
She told Milimani Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi that she did not instruct Mr Achola to write the letter brought to her attention by officers at the Directorate of criminal investigations (DCI).
In the letter, the PSC asked the PS to convey to the GAA its intention to place advertisements in The Sunday Express.
Led in testifying by state prosecutor Ruby Okoth, Dr Otwala said she “did not even know whether there was a newspaper by the name The Sunday Express“.
Dr Otwala said the DCI officers visited her office with a letter dated April 22, 2016 that she allegedly wrote to the PS.
Ms Okoth asked, âAre you aware of this letter to the ICT PS about the PSC placing ads and the writing of feature stories in The Sunday Express newspaper?”
Dr Otwala answered, âNo, I am not aware about it.”
Dr Otwala, who joined the PSC as its CEO in 2012, further noted she was in-charge of general administration and was the accounting officer in financial matters.
She said that never in her tenure did she seek the placement of advertisements in that newspaper.
In the letter to the PS, the GAA was also asked to process a payment of Sh2,873,660, with a 16 per cent VAT of Sh280,000, for every page on receipt of the newspaper.
Dr Otwala explained in great detail the elaborate policy, guidelines and format of the PSC’s placement of advertisements in newspapers through the GAA.
She also told the court that the agency had rules of operating and could only publish advertisements requisitioned and authorised by the parent ministries and government departments.
The witness testified in the case in which Mr Itemere, Mr Savula and the others are charged with conspiring to defraud the government of Sh122,335,500 by placing advertisements in MP Savula’s newspaper.
Others charged are Dennis Kuko Chebitwey, a former director at the GAA; Dickson Onlala Nyandiga, an Under-Secretary in the State department; Henry Musambaga Mungasia, an administrative secretary and AIE holder; and Susan Akinyi Ouma, a chief media buyer.
Mr Chebitwey, Mr Itemere, Mr Nyandiga, Mr Mungasia and Ms Ouma are charged separately with abuse of office for allegedly authorising payment of the amount to Mr Savulaâs companies for services not rendered.
The companies are The Sunday Publishers, The Express Media Group, Melsaw Company Limited, Johnnewton Communications, No Burns Protection Agencies Limited, Cross Continents Ventures and Shieldlock Limited.
They allegedly conspired to steal the money between July 1, 2015 and August 30, 2018.
All the accused are out on bond.
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