Kibaki’s Trip to Masai Mara That Landed MD in Prison

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Former President Mwai Kibaki during a trip at Masai Mara in 2008.
Dr Achieng’ Ong’ong’a Oneko was a revered figure in the government when he served as the Managing director of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) during former President Mwai Kibaki’s era.

Ong’ong’a, who is the son of the late freedom fighter Ramogi Achieng’ Oneko, in 2009 found himself facing jail when he was charged with defrauding the ministry of Ksh8.4 million.

He was arraigned together with former Tourism PS Rebecca Nabutola and tour operator Duncan Muriuki in a case that lasted two years.

The three were charged with a total of 11 counts of conspiracy to defraud, failure to adhere to rules governing procurement and abuse of office.

Former President Mwai Kibaki during a trip at Masai Mara in 2008.

This trip in question was a 2008 excursion to the Masai Mara which the trio had organised and funded for Kibaki and Permanent Secretaries to familiarise themselves with the marketing of wildebeest migration in the Game Reserve.

It was in 2011 that Senior Principal Magistrate Lucy Nyambura ruled that the trip was grossly overpriced with an initial budget of Ksh900,000 which ended up costing Ksh8.4 Million.

“The cost of the entire trip was Ksh1.8 million which was to be sourced from stakeholders. No documents are there to show the other payments even after one stakeholder paid Sh500,000 for the trip.

“In fact, the other accused (Duncan Muriuki) opened a fixed deposit account for the money and withdrew it soon after the trip was over,” the Magistrate stated.

Dr Ong’ong’a, a University Don, was found guilty of two other charges of failing to comply with procurement rules.
and approving payment for services not rendered.

From Left: tour operator Duncan Muriuki, former KTB MD Achieng' Ong'ong'a and former Tourism PS Rebecca Nabutola in court in 2012.

From Left: tour operator Duncan Muriuki, former KTB MD Achieng’ Ong’ong’a and former Tourism PS Rebecca Nabutola in court in 2012.

The magistrate stated that the former MD had failed to explain why the budget ballooned to Ksh8.4 Million. Ong’ong’a on his part stated that he approved the payment because of the absence of the board.

The former MD recalled the days when he was sentenced adding that it was a low moment in his life

“I had woken up normally and didn’t expect to be jailed. Then as the magistrate read on, I realised things were not going our way. I steeled myself for the moment and it came like a thunderbolt.

“It was traumatising. I took solace in the fact that my father was jailed for 16 years, and I had been sentenced for only three. I had no choice but to defend the family name by taking it in my stride,” says Ong’ong’a.

He added that he readied himself for the unfamiliar territory and quickly began reflecting on his life.

“I had been very active, leading a high standard life, and now I was being sent to confinement for three years, my freedom curtailed,” he was quoted by the Standard during an interview in 2012.

Ong’ong’a and Nabutolah had spent two months in prison before they were freed on Ksh500,000 cash bail each on November 30, 2012.

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