Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji on Tuesday, May 30, defended his office over allegedly paying Ksh13 million for unoccupied offices.
Appearing before the National Assembly Committee on National on Defense, Intelligence and Foreign Relations for his vetting to become the next Director General for the National Intelligence Service (NIS), Haji stated that the pandemic caused the loss.
The DPP explained that he had planned to collapse some offices his office occupied at the time and look for bigger spaces to centralise their services but due to the pandemic, they failed to find bigger office spaces.
The pandemic further crippled their plan to move out from the unused offices in Machakos and Mombasa.
"This came about because of the Covid period where we had planned, as ODPP, to collapse some of the offices in these regions and have them centralised. If we had adequate transport, then we would have moved out.
"In the process of that, we decided to look for offices that were big enough. However, we did not find bigger officers because of Covid. When the auditors came in, they felt that this space was lost," he explained, revealing that the money was not misappropriated since the offices were procedurally acquired.
The Office of the Auditor General, in its 2021/2022 report, exposed Haji's office claiming that it paid Ksh9 million for an unoccupied office in Mombasa.
During the same period, the report disclosed that ODPP paid Ksh4 million for a department in Machakos, but they never used the office, further expounding the loss.
“An audit verification revealed that three-quarters of the office in Mombasa space was not occupied, resulting in an estimated annual loss of public funds of Ksh9,772,308 and totalling Ksh48,861,540 in five years.
“Three-quarters of the office space for a Machakos building was not occupied resulting in an annual loss of public funds of Ksh4,838,400. An internal memo dated 8 June 2022 addressed to the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions indicating that there was no value for money on rental space had not been acted on by the time of the audit,” the report read in part.
However, Haji blamed it on the pandemic which he argued affected his office operations alongside the rest of the country.
Besides expenditure on unoccupied office spaces, Haji dismissed claims that his office was marred with cases of misappropriation.
He vowed to table more reports to defend the expenditure and correct concerns raised by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu.
"The last four years, the ODPP has got a clean bill of health from ODPP. A sterling performance from even the taxman. And this one issue of office space, we have also written to the auditor general to ask for their indulgence to come and do a proper audit and see our point that it was a covid period that necessitated this problem," Haji stated.
On his nomination to replace outgoing NIS boss Philip Wachira Kameru, Haji promised a paradigm shift in the sector and vowed to utilise different resources and facilities to address some of the challenges including extremists.