In a surprising turn of events, Controller of Budget Dr. Margaret Nyakang’o has been arrested in Mombasa in connection to a complaint filed against her and 10 other individuals dating back to 2016, a period preceding her assumption of the Controller of Budget role. Nyakang’o, who assumed office in June 2020, faces charges including conspiracy to defraud, operating an unlicensed Sacco, forgery, and uttering false documents.
The arrest took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with Nyakang’o subsequently being taken to the police station for processing. However, the Controller of Budget contests her arrest, asserting that she voluntarily presented herself to the police station to record a statement regarding the charges.
The charges were approved by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) in a letter to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) dated November 30, reflecting the culmination of a thorough examination of new evidence according to the inquiry file. Nyakang’o, along with the 10 other individuals, is set to face charges related to the alleged conspiracy to defraud, operating an unlicensed Sacco, forgery, and uttering false documents.
Nyakang’o’s arrest has stirred controversy, with conflicting narratives emerging about the circumstances leading to her detention. Despite her release on a Ksh.2 million bond, with the option of a similar surety or Ksh.500,000 in cash, the Controller of Budget maintains her innocence, entering a plea of not guilty to the four charges during her appearance in a Mombasa court on Tuesday.
Efforts to apprehend the other individuals implicated in the 2016 complaint are reportedly ongoing, as authorities seek to bring the entire cohort to justice. Nyakang’o’s arrest, shrouded in a cloud of uncertainty, took place while she was attending a public event in Mombasa, raising questions about the timing and nature of the operation.
The charges against Nyakang’o and her associates include operating a Sacco without a license, contrary to Section 24 as read with Section 66 of the Sacco Societies Act, 2008. The ODPP’s approval of these charges underscores the seriousness of the allegations and the legal implications that the Controller of Budget and her co-accused now face.
Nyakang’o, known for her vocal stance on public expenditure, assumed her role in June 2020 and has since been a prominent figure in financial discussions. Her recent warnings about the government’s potential inability to deliver crucial services due to a weakening shilling against the dollar have added another layer of complexity to her arrest.
In her National Government Budget Implementation Review Report for 2022/23, Nyakang’o highlighted the significant amount of public debt denominated in foreign currencies, making the country vulnerable to currency fluctuations and exchange rate risks. She cautioned that the continuous depreciation of the Kenya shilling could lead to increased loan repayments, eroding the government’s fiscal space and limiting the implementation of critical policies and programs.
While Nyakang’o’s tenure as the Controller of Budget is protected by the Constitution, providing eight years of security since her swearing-in, the charges she now faces may have far-reaching consequences. Article 251 of the Constitution outlines the grounds for the removal of a Constitutional officeholder, including serious violation of the Constitution, gross misconduct, physical or mental incapacity, incompetence, or bankruptcy.
Nyakang’o’s plea of not guilty sets the stage for a legal battle that could have implications beyond her personal standing. As the legal process unfolds, questions about the veracity of the 2016 allegations and the timing of the charges against the Controller of Budget and her co-accused will undoubtedly fuel public discourse and legal scrutiny. The case has the potential to reshape the landscape of financial oversight and accountability within the Kenyan government, making it a matter of keen interest for citizens and stakeholders alike.