Architectural officer caught on video receiving bribe now says “it was gift from friend”
WAJIR—The public works officer seen in a secret video while receiving bribe in his officer now claims the person in the clip is not him.
Wajir County Architectural Assistant Stephen Ndutho rubished the video, claiming it a “blackmail.”
“The person in the video is not me,” Ndutho responded when Kulan Post reached him for comment on Friday, just a day before the damning video was released.
On Saturday when the video of him receiving sh 5,000 bribe appeared on Kulan Post Facebook and YouTube pages, Ndatho changed tone saying the person was actually him, but the money was not for bribe.
“It was not a bribe,” Ndatho said, adding that it was “a personal gift from a friend.”
According to the video, he is seen receiving the money in a bid to approve a construction of a building without actual assessment. The contractors are then overheard pressuring Mr Ndatho to approve their work without following the right procedure.
“You asked (for) Sh5,000 and here we brought it,” a female voice is heard telling Ndatho.
Ndatho then responds saying: “I told you I am going somewhere now. Let’s do it later.”
Mr Ndatho then asks the contractors to see him later in the evening.
“You will finish our work by five (5 pm)?” the contractor seeks clarification and Ndatho assures them that he will do it at the agreed time.
Ndatho is the County Architectural Assistant. He is charged with formulating architectural assistance to architects in developing construction plans and later ensure compliance of all architectural guidelines and standards when contractors finish their work.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Corruption (EACC) said it has received the video, though not formally, and officials at the agency say a team of detectives will be dispatched to Wajir to asses the works Ndatho supervised in the last financial year.
““We will take a tour of all the projects he (Stephen Ndutho) supervised in the last financial year,” EACC officer based in Garissa, who is not authorized to speak for the agency, told Kulan Post on the phone.
The projects include buildings constructed with funds from the CDF and the County Government of Wajir such as schools and hospitals.
On Sunday, detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) shockingly arrested Kulan Post Wajir correspondent, Mohamed Barre after he declined to disclose the source that provided him with the secretly recorded video. He is set to appear before the Wajir Magistrate Court tomorrow.
Kenyans have angrily reacted to the arrest of the journalist, saying it is an indication of how the investigative agencies are hell-bent on targeting the messenger rather than the culprit.
“Mohamed Barre (the journalist) provided a proof for the DCI to react on. Instead they targeted him for helping them out,” Angnes Wanjiru commented on Facebook.
Kulan Post editor Abdikadir Ukash termed the arrest unfortunate, saying the Wajir based are famous for targeting journalist in their line of duty. He termed the arrest “mischievous.”
Describing Mohamed Barre as a hardworking journalist, Mr Ukash stated that arresting him was ill-intended.
“His arrest is as good as shooting the messenger. The officers have seen the damning video, but instead decided to punish Mohamed Barre for exposing the corrupt,” he said.
According to the editor, Sunday’s arrest was not the first. He said Mr Barre was arrested by the same officers last year after he exposed a corrupt deal involving Wajir County officials.
“The officers who arrested him then confiscated his laptop and mobile phone,” said Mr Ukash. “Nine months later, they returned the gadget with an apology. Why do they have to waste 9 months to probe nothing?” Ukash asked.