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Jackson Mandago

Uasin Gishu County Senator Jackson Mandago has run into hiding as police continue to hunt him down over the controversial Finland and Canada Overseas Education Programme.

The National Police Service has called on Kenyans to furnish them with details of the whereabouts of the former Uasin Gishu governor.

The senator together with three other top county officials, are wanted by police for prosecution over the county’s scholarship fiasco.

The police on Wednesday obtained warrant of arrest after Mandago went under.

According to the police, Mandago has been hiding since Tuesday night.

“The National Police Service is in the process of executing a Warrant of Arrest against Uasin Gishu Senator Hon. Jackson Mandago, who has gone underground since yesterday, and calls upon the Senator to present himself at the nearest police station,” the NPS said through its official social media handles.

Mandago had earlier on dismissed reports that he was hiding from the police.

He said he is available for summoning should the DCI come for him.

“There are rumours all over Eldoret Town that DCI Officers have been looking for me the whole night. As a law abiding citizen, I am available once summoned. I have met with the leadership of parents and agreed on the way foward as per their press statement issued last evening.

“I have met with the leadership of parents demanding refunds and agreed on the way foward as per their press statement issued last evening,” Mandago posted.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecution gave consent for the prosecution of the officials in the fiasco.

They are supposed to face charges of conspiracy to commit a felony, stealing and abuse of office.

They are also accused of forgery.

They are accused of conspiring to steal Sh1 billion from an account domiciled at the Kenya Commercial Bank in Eldoret registered under the Uasin Gishu Education Trust Fund meant for overseas university fees for students under Uasin Gishu County Overseas Education Programme.

Mandago and the other officials were summoned to the Directorate of Criminal Investigation headquarters last Friday where they were grilled by a team that is investigating the Finland and Canada overseas education programme.

He confirmed the grilling but did not disclose what he told the officers about his possible role in the saga.

EACC is probing allegations of embezzlement of over Sh837 million by officials of the Uasin Gishu county government collected from parents for the facilitation of scholarship programmes for their children to Finland and Canada. 

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In May 2021, the Uasin Gishu County Government partnered with Tampere University, Finland, in a programme that would see students from the devolved unit airlifted to live, study and work in the foreign country.

It was a dream come true for many, given the yearning of young Kenyans to join universities overseas.

Many, especially those from humble backgrounds, had enthusiastically applied for the opportunity, hoping it would save them from the tedious immigration processes that come with obtaining travel documents.

The first batch of learners left the country in September 2021, three months after the deal was signed – the 51 students were to pursue medicine and other science-related courses: 25 were going to pursue degree courses and 26 were to pursue diplomas.

The icing on the cake was that the successful applicants in the programme were guaranteed employment in Finland upon completion of their courses.

Because of this, many families took a chance, organising fundraisers to raise the fees to enable their sons and daughters to pursue the dream that would alleviate them from their challenging backgrounds. 

The county government went ahead to open an account – the Uasin Gishu County Government Overseas Trust Fund – at KCB Bank to collect the tuition fees the students were required to pay.

Under the deal, the devolved unit was to act as a guarantor for the students in their respective universities in payment of their tuition fees.

The county government agreed to collect money from the parents and remit it as a lump sum, thus there was no agreement between parents and the universities to pay the tuition fees directly to the institution.

On September 14, 2021, former Governor Jackson Mandago (now the county senator) flagged off the first batch of 51 students to travel to Finland to study in a partnership that sought to produce qualified health personnel for the international labour market, while at the same time addressing youth unemployment.

Some of the parents are demanding a refund of their money terming the entire arrangement a scam.

The complaints prompted the formation of an ad hoc committee to establish the legal framework on which the Finland scholarship programme was anchored. The team is looking into whether there is a memorandum of understanding between the county government and the targeted Finland universities. 
The committee was informed that 202 students are in Finland under the programme, which was to be implemented at Tampere, Jyvaskala and LUT universities, among others. According to the county education department, Max-global acted as the agent in the recruitment of students and the county stood in for the bank statements for the students.

Committee Findings

The ad-hoc committee has recommended disciplinary action against officials implicated in the scam. It has further recommended a refund of money paid as fees by parents under the much-hyped Uasin Gishu students airlift programme.

The committee found out that senior County officials colluded with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and agents to fleece parents of millions in a Finnish scholarship scandal that saw learners airlifted and dumped in Europe.

Following its investigation, the team, whose report was endorsed by the county assembly for consideration, now wants the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), and other relevant agencies to move in and investigate the implicated senior county officials for forgery, abuse of office and integrity.

The committee led by Mr Gilbert Chepkonga has endorsed the recovery of the stolen money to support some of the students who are said to be stranded in Finnish universities.
According to the report, the Uasin Gishu County Government, under the stewardship of former Governor Jackson Mandago, now the Uasin Gishu Senator, opened the ‘Uasin Gishu County Government Overseas Trust Fund’ account in Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) for purposes of receiving tuition fees for the students benefiting from the scholarship programme.
Protesting parents led by Mr Reuben Chepses Koech told the committee those who applied for the opportunity were required to pay an interview fee of Sh6,500, but were not issued with receipts for the payment.

The students were then required to pay 8,650 euros — equivalent to Sh1.19 million in school fees, Sh80,000 accommodation fee for three months, Sh30,000 insurance fee, Sh49,000 for a visa, Sh5,000 for Covid test and 100,000 for their flights.

The eligible candidates were issued with acceptance letters from their respective universities, while the County Government of Uasin Gishu issued them with a certificate of full scholarship.

On September 14, 2021, Mr Mandago flagged off the first batch of 51 students to travel to Tampere to study in various fields, in the partnership that sought to produce qualified health personnel for the international labour market, while at the same time addressing youth unemployment.

However, according to the report by the committee, the implementation of the programme was a highly guarded secret that even then-county head of Education Joseph Kurgat was kept in the dark, despite it being under his docket.
Mr Kurgat told the committee that the programme was not discussed at the county Cabinet level and no policy framework was tabled for Cabinet approval.

Case with KCB

While accusing KCB officials of being part of the bigger plot, the committee is demanding a forensic financial audit of the Uasin Gishu Education Overseas Trust Account at the KCB Eldoret East branch, and that county employees mentioned as beneficiaries of the transactions from the account be suspended pending investigations.

According to bank statements tabled before the committee, several individuals, including senior county officials are among the irregular beneficiaries of funds meant for the students.

“The County Executive to engage the services of an independent and reputable external forensic auditor to audit the account and report back to the county assembly within 30 days.

The forensic auditor’s term of reference shall be to analyse the financial data to look for evidence of the crime,” said the report.

The committee further wants KCB to investigate and take necessary action against its staff for professional negligence, by allowing the Uasin Gishu Overseas Education Trust Account to be opened without conducting due diligence.

The report reveals that some trustees heavily benefited financially from withdrawals from the account, although they were not entitled to a monetary benefit.

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Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago is on spot over Sh 372 million stalled projects. According to an auditor report, the residents were denied services due to the incomplete projects and could have lost millions as a result of contracts terminated by Mandago’s government.

This was unearthed during the questioning of the governor by the Senate watchdog committee over audit queries on Monday. These queries were flagged by Auditor General Nancy Gathungu for the period ending June 30th, 2019.

Mandago faced a hard time trying to explain to the Senate County Public Accounts and Investments Committee why several projects started by his administration, some in his first terms, had stalled thus denying services to the residents.

It was revealed that his administration had terminated some contracts, thus exposing the taxpayer’s money to risk of loss. The auditor’s report indicated that out of the 54 development projects worth Sh 1.35 billion initiated by the county, 9 worth Sh 372.71 million had stalled and sh 79.57 million had been paid to contractors.

According to the report, the county executive failed to explain why the projects stalled or disclose actions it had taken to revive and complete them.

At the time of the audit, six projects worth 522.63 million were ongoing at the time of the audit. No value had been received on funds totaling 79.57 million invested therein and after. It further stated that the services the projects were to provide to the residents of Uasin Gishu were no realized.

Additionally, the county government was also accused of spending 132.08 million on a building that later stalled. The auditor also pointed out delays in the construction of milk coolers despite the county making payments amounting to 187.07 million shillings

The report further states that the construction of 13 cooling plants were contracted at 63.45 million and payments totaling 40.88 million were made but they stalled. Thereafter, the contracts were terminated and the tenders were re-advertised in October 2019.

In his defense, Mandago said that most of the projects were in their initial stages of implementation when the auditors visited the site. Adding that some of them have since then been completed, while others are already in use and others at various stages of completion.

He told the oversight committee chaired by Migori Senator Ochillo Oyacko that his government had to terminate some projects after finding out that some contractors were unable to complete the projects. He said some contractors under-quoted the contract sum, and in the middle, the found out the sum was not enough. The legislators however had an issue with the high number of stalled projects and terminated contracts.

Governor Mandago denied any loss f cash stating that the contractors were only paid for what they had done. Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei did not spare the governor as he asked if due diligence was conducted by the county administration in award of tenders. Cherargei added that termination of tenders and re-tendering have consequences.

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Business mogul and politician Bundotich Kiprop alias Buzeki on Monday September 7, 2020 visited ODM party leader Raila Odinga at his Capitol Hill office.

Buzeki who was in the company of Cherengany MP Joshua Kutuny held a meeting with Raila, whose details have remained scanty.

The former prime minister took to his official social media accounts to say that he had held the meeting with the duo, but did not reveal the details of their meeting.


This comes just a day after Buzeki clashed with Uasin Gishu governor Jackson Mandago and Kapsaret MP Oscar Sudi.

Buzeki on Saturday engaged in a public spat with MP Oscar Sudi and governor Mandago over 2022 succession politics.

The three met during a fundraiser in Kapseret constituency, Eldoret, where Buzeki insisted he would vie again for the governor’s seat in 2022 and do a better job in ensuring Uasin Gishu becomes a model county. Buzeki lost to Mandago in 2017.

“Mandago, you have done your part and when I take over I will host a grand send-off party for you as you retire. I will then deliver on ensuring unity in Uasin Gishu,” the businessman said.

Buzeki, who was cheered by residents, also criticised some local politicians for repeatedly using DP William Ruto’s name instead of outlining their own performance record.

“Some of you keep on telling us about Ruto everywhere as if people don’t know him. Tell us about your own agenda because everyone here knows Ruto and supports him,” he said.

When MP Sudi rose to speak he told off Buzeki, accusing him of engaging in divisive politics in Uasin Gishu.

“You should seek support without causing divisions among residents of Uasin Gishu,” Sudi said.

He told Buzeki that residents would not vote for him to succeed Mandago in 2022.

Sudi claimed that Buzeki had sold his dairy company and was not the right person to talk about improving the economy of the region.

“These people are not telling you the truth because they will not vote for you come 2022,” Sudi told Buzeki.

Mandago, who spoke last, asked Buzeki to go slow on his political ambitions. The governor said politics would keep on changing, especially if the BBI leads to constitutional changes.

“If BBI will go through, then we will likely have a new Constitution and I will be back seeking to be elected again. I will be back for another fresh term, and I am sure I will win. Buzeki, please go slow because I am not going anywhere,” Mandago said.

He told Buzeki to stop relying on brokers believing they would help him win the governor’s seat.

“Those brokers you go round with are just interested in your money and will not help you with anything. Deal with residents of this region and go slow,” Mandago said.

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