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Details: Murdered Journalist Was Witness In Sh122M Graft Case Against MP Savula & Ex-PS Itamere



When Jenifer Wambua couldn’t answer to his phone calls, the husband Joseph Komu went straight to her office in Upperhill to find out what was going on as it was unusual. He then launched a search around everywhere including hospitals and morgues in the city on Friday out of fear that something wrong might have happened to her.

On Saturday Komu filed a missing person complaint wuth the police. As he hanged on a string of hope for the wife a Deputy Communications Director at the National Lands Commission could be found alive, 30KMs away from the CBD a group of herders stumbled on her body dumped in a thicket along Ngong Road. Her body was then brought to City Mortuary and booked in as un identified body.

It was until Monday that Komu knew the fate of his wife.

It was murder, the police ruled as homocide detectives visited her office combing out for evidence including reviewing the CCTV that showed her leaving the office to the parking lot in the morning.

What puzzled the detectives is her belongings including phone were found in the back of the car pointing at a possibility that she was kidnapped just as she was entering the car or she out then in and went to meet someone. Police are also conducting forensic tests on the phone to find out those she was last in communication with and if there were threats.

Preliminary report indicate she had leg and shoulder injuries implying that she had been kidnapped also it appeared she was strangled.

Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo who was also Jennifer’s lawyer in a corruption case that she was due to testify on Wednesday said the former journalist had been living in fear and mysterious incidences had occurred to her last week. In Chumvi area, Machakos, a lorry had hit her car head on in an accident that she survived and police were still investigating.

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Maanzo revealed that Jeniffer was to spend the weekend in his home to prepare her for the questioning this week before she was kidnapped on Friday.

It has now emerged that Jennifer was a key witness in the Sh122M graft case in the Government Advertising Agency where Lugari MP Ayub Savula and his wives, former Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology PS Sammy Itamere and former Director of Government Advertising Agency (GAA) Dennis Chebitwey were among 23 individuals and five companies whom the State believes syphoned Sh122 million through briefcase entities instead of paying media companies for services rendered.

The government owes media companies Sh2.5 billion for services rendered but not paid for over the years.

In October 2018, they were charged for the fraud, “I am satisfied there is sufficient evidence of fraudulent advertisement and payment of Sh122,335,500 to honourable Ayub Savula, Melody Gatwiri and Hellen Kemboi, the Sunday Publishers Limited, Melsav Company Ltd, Johnnewton Communications, the Express Media Group, No Burns Protection Ltd, Cross Continent Ventures Ltd and Sheldlock Ltd respectively,” said Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji.

Mr Haji added: “I am further satisfied that Sammy Ishiundu Itemere approved fraudulent payments of Sh122, 335,500 to the aforementioned names and companies.”

And just how did they execute this crime smoothly like that?

The scam, as alleged, is simple enough. The government advertises stuff, as all governments do, so there’s a budget for it. So, set up a series of “briefcase companies” which purport to place or book such advertising. Get insiders in the budget sign off process to direct contracts, invoices and payments to those briefcase companies which then just swallow the cash.

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Savula who’s also a former journalist is the director of the seven fictitious firms that were also charged with the same offences including the publishers of Sunday Express, a weekly newspaper that circulates in Nairobi only, in conspiracy with others charged, he formed the companies and siphoned the funds. This was happening while media houses were on the state’s neck over unpaid bills amounting to Sh2.5B.

Jeniffer testified against the accused fraudsters last month as state witness and was due for cross examination on Wednesday. There are reports that the slain woman had expressed fear during her testimony delivery telling the court some people were after her life. In her evidence, she had produced a Sh5 million invoice number 0070 dated March 22, 2017, from Sunday Express publisher MP Savula to the ICT ministry.

Savula troubles stretches out to the taxman, the MP earned a total of Sh1 billion from contracts signed with various State agencies in five years through his company, Sunday Publishers Limited, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) according to a suit he’s battling in court.

Mr Savula’s Sunday Publishers is said to have received the cash between 2013 and 2017 from government agencies among them the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, the Nairobi County government, Migori County, Mombasa County and the National Land Commission.

The lucrative deals are now the subject of an ongoing tax evasion investigation by KRA and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

During the five-year period, Sunday Publishers which Mr Savula co-owns with his wife, Hellen Kemboi, filed nil tax returns, despite receiving huge sums of cash.

The investigations by KRA have seen the legislator slapped with Sh473.8 million tax arrears demand, which comprises interest and penalties.

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Tax assessments sent to Mr Savula’s Sunday Publishers Limited paint a picture of a company that was involved in mega deals.

KRA commenced investigations in February 2018. The taxman’s investigators analysed the firm’s bank statements and documents obtained from the company.

The taxman also obtained records of transactions from the known clients of Mr Savula’s company, the invoices and Local Purchase Orders, which it used to piece together the deals.

KRA was forced to adopt this method because the firm had filed Nil tax returns for 2015, 2016 and 2017, while no tax returns were filed in 2013 and 2014 despite Sunday Publishers having earned income in those years.

The company received Sh84.7 million in 2013, Sh174.3 million in 2014, Sh397 million in 2015, Sh150.8 million in 2016 and Sh207.9 million in 2017, adding up to Sh1 billion.

Detectives are also looking at the possibilities if there could be anything related to her current workplace that could’ve led to her brutal murder.

The GAA was created in 2015 to handle all government advertisements in electronic and print media despite protests by the Media Owners Association.The agency publishes My Gov, a weekly insert distributed in the dailies. And although parastatals and other government departments remit money to the agency, it has not been paying media houses their dues.

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