How Ministry Official Created Ghost School and Stole Sh11M From Free Education Kitty

The Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court has granted permission to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to recover Sh11.1 million in cash and several parcels of land from a former Ministry of Education official.

This successful legal action was initiated by the anti-corruption watchdog, which presented evidence of a clerical officer’s involvement in a fraudulent scheme. The said officer created a fictitious school to misappropriate public funds from the government’s Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) program.

The individual at the center of this case is Joshua Ocharo Momanyi, who was responsible for data entry at the Ministry’s Jogoo House headquarters in Nairobi. He is alleged to have added an entirely fictional school to the list of secondary institutions eligible for government funding. The funds were embezzled during the period between August 22, 2017, and June 18, 2018.

Joshua Momanyi was initially employed in 2010 and was stationed in Khwisero Sub County, Kakamega County.

The EACC investigation revealed that Mr. Momanyi included the non-existent Mundeku Secondary School, which he claimed accommodated 1,188 students, in Khwisero Sub-County, Kakamega County. The Equity Bank account receiving Sh.11,131,305.53 in FDSE funds was under his control.

Interestingly, the scam was exposed when book publishers working with the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) couldn’t locate the school while distributing textbooks.

The EACC’s investigation also shed light on how Joshua Momanyi spent the embezzled funds. He transferred Sh.3.4 million to his KCB account and used Sh1.8 million of this amount to acquire two parcels of land. One of these parcels was located in Mavoko town, where he paid Sh980,000, while the other was situated in Ol Donyo Sabuk, for which he paid Sh850,000.

Furthermore, Momanyi used Sh1.6 million from his Equity account to purchase a Toyota Vanguard vehicle, covering the remaining Sh750,000 in cash installments. However, the car was repossessed by the dealer at the request of the anti-graft agency during their investigation. From the vehicle, the EACC recovered Sh1.9 million due to depreciation.

In a court ruling delivered by Justice Prof. Nixon Sifuna on October 5, the EACC was granted the authority to recover the embezzled millions and the parcels of land. While Ocharo had fraudulently received Sh.11,131,305.53, the focus of the Commission’s case was on the recovery of Sh.9,231,305.53, which had been unlawfully deposited into his personal bank account as a result of his fraudulent activities.

Justice Sifuna ruled that the two parcels of land purchased by Ocharo using stolen public funds should be handed over to the State as they are considered proceeds of the crime. Furthermore, the defendant was ordered to pay Kes. 7,421,305.53, which was the amount retained after the purchase of the aforementioned land parcels. Interest was to be paid at court rates (12%) from the time of the loss.

As a result of this ruling, the EACC has submitted another file to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) seeking to bring five criminal charges against Joshua Ocharo Momanyi.