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Suspended CA Director-General Ezra Chiloba before the Ad-hoc Committee of Enquiry into the Worldcoin controversy [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

On Monday, September 18 evening, the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) Director-General was suspended by the Board Chair Mary Mungai, over undisclosed reasons.

The Board’s failure to explain the reason for Chiloba’s suspension has raised a lot of questions among Kenyans online, with various speculations coming from every corner. 

However, it has now emerged that the CA boss was shown the door over alleged abuse of office and misuse of funds in the authority’s mortgage scheme.

The Standard has seen a report by CA Board members, following a meeting held on August 9, 2023, after a probe to ascertain the cause of the irregularities in the scheme. 

The meeting had two agendas: Presentation of the Audit Report on the CA Staff Mortgage Scheme and assessment of the presented Audit Report on International Relations.

The probe was conducted by a committee, dubbed Board Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (BARAC).

According to BARAC, Chiloba breached the obligations under his terms of service by applying for and individually approving a mortgage loan in contravention of the required procedure. 

It is alleged that the loan was to facilitate a transaction between him and another party. The committee, tasked with probing the inconsistencies noticed in the mortgage scheme, found that relevant information was omitted and that the loan was approved by a junior staff meaning, there’s no evidence showing law was followed.

“The loan application was approved by a junior staff member and there is no evidence to support that fact that the junior staff member carried out requisite due diligence and advice management including but not limited to the relationship between the seller and the buyer and the size of the property,” a section of the report reads.

Chiloba is also accused of misconduct while in office by purchasing a house and a piece of land exceeding the one-acre limit under the Civil Servants Housing Scheme requirement. 

He is said to have purchased seven acres of land. More questions came up after the probe found that CA had disbursed funds to an account under Chiloba’s Kitale-based company.

“Further interrogation to confirm the identity of the seller vide a query through the Companies Registry revealed the sole director and shareholder of Kitale Hilmost Ltd as Ezra Chiloba Simiyu, who is also the buyer. These actions amount to an offense in accordance with Section 41 and 42 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act,” the report shows.

From these findings, the committee recommended disciplinary action against the Director General, Directors of Human Resources, Legal Services, and Finance, as well as the internal auditor.

“Mortgage scheme repayment defaulters were mainly Officers who had left the Authority. The officers were cleared without due regard to outstanding obligations to the Authority. Management should hold those responsible to account and recover the liabilities within the next 30 days,”

In an interview with Citizen TV on Monday night, Telecommunications and Broadcasting Principal Secretary (PS) Edward Kisiangani said the Ministry was not aware of the move.

He says the state does not micro-manage the day-to-day activities of the parastatal and vowed to give a comprehensive statement on the same once he had official communication from the CA Board.

“The Ministry of ICT does not micromanage the CA. The ministry only gets a report and does not determine what happens. I am not aware of the differences between Mary Mungai (Board Chair) and Chiloba but once they brief us, I will give a comprehensive statement on why he was suspended. I can reverse the decision if I feel they made the wrong decision,” he said.

In his (Chiloba) place, the Board Chair named Christopher Wambua as the Director General in an acting capacity until further notice.

Prior to the changes, Wambua was the Director of Consumer and Public Affairs at CA since 2016.

Chiloba joined CA in September 2021, replacing Francis Wangusi, whose second and final term ended in 2019.

Before his appointment, Chiloba was a board member of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF), a state agency that provides loans and grants to young entrepreneurs.

He was also the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), where he oversaw the controversial 2017 general elections and the repeat presidential election. By Winfrey Owino, The Standard

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