As Uasin Gishu Senator Jackson Mandago is set to face charges in connection with the Finland scholarship scandal, his counterpart, Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, is simultaneously confronting allegations of bribery linked to his involvement in the same scholarship scam.
The scholarship saga involved collusion between county officials, financial institutions and agents who collected money from parents and students and deposited it in an illegal account.
Money was supposed to be sent to the learning institutions in Finland and Canada, but some of the universities did not receive the required funds, putting the students at risk of deportation.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) has given approval for charges against Mandago, while Cherargei faces scrutiny for his role in the alleged corruption and deception surrounding the Sh1.1 billion scholarship program initiated during Mandago’s tenure as the Uasin Gishu County governor.
Cherargei, who was also a member of the Senate committee that was investigating the saga, allegedly tried to protect Judy Jepchirchir the director of First Choice Recruitment and Consultancy Agency which was implicated in the scandal.
Judy was one of the key suspects in the scandal and was accused of colluding with the county officials and the financial institutions to fleece the parents and the students.
Messages leaked in August 2023 reveal a brazen attempt by Cherargei to solicit a substantial bribe from Judy’s associate on top of the money he had already received to use his influence in the Senate committee and ensure that Judy would not be adversely mentioned in the report.
In the text exchange, Cherargei is adamant about securing an additional Ksh 3 million.
The demand is explicit, with Cherargei promising to “take care of the chair and members” to ensure that Judy’s name is spared from any negative mentions by the committee.
“Don’t be too hard on her,” Judy’s associate says, starting the conversation.
“What can we do now, Mhesh.?” she adds in a subsequent message.
“Judy knows how I am protecting her from even the chair,” Cherargei replies.
“Ok, I will let her know,” Judy’s associate replies.
“Ksh 3m, and I take care of the chair and members,” Cherargei demands.
“Anything after Tuesday, I will not accept it,” he adds in a follow-up text sent in quick succession.
The text messages, which were obtained by a whistleblower and shared on social media showcase Cherargei’s unchecked greed and unabashed corruption.
Word for word, the messages detail his audacious demand for a bribe from Judy Jepchirchir’s associate, laying bare the extent of his willingness to manipulate the ongoing investigation.
The exchanges also illuminate Cherargei’s utter disregard for the struggling parents and students ensnared in the scholarship scandal’s web.
Interestingly, despite a section of the public raising their voices in protest, Cherargei has chosen to stay quiet, ignoring the serious accusations against him.
Cherargei has taken the focus away from the scholarship scandal and shifted it to a public fight with Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen.
The Rift Valley political scene has become a battleground for accusations and threats, with the two politicians arguing about everything.
While the ongoing argument between Cherargei and Murkomen might be interesting for political watchers, it is taking attention away from what really matters – justice and accountability in the scholarship scandal.
It seems the victims of the scholarship scam have been pushed to the sidelines and their struggles forgotten amid the political games and internal party disputes.
Only through transparency, accountability, and a relentless pursuit of justice can Kenya begin to rebuild public trust and ensure that such scandals never happen again.
It is crucial to note that while Senator Cherargei has not been formally charged with any wrongdoing despite the seriousness of these allegations demands immediate action.
We urge the relevant authorities to conduct a swift and thorough investigation to ensure justice is served.
Media must play a more responsible role in holding powerful individuals accountable.
By neglecting to report on Cherargei’s alleged involvement for so long, they have failed to uphold their journalistic duty to inform the public and hold those in power accountable.
Although the compromised media has chosen to stay quiet on this issue, we will continue following this story and provide updates.
We believe that the public deserves to know the truth and that justice must be served.
Those who seek to cover up corruption will not silence us.