Former Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and ex-Principal Secretary Leah Adda Gwiyo, alongside engineering consultant Joseph Odero, were on Friday arrested by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

The arrests, made on Thursday, are linked to alleged procurement irregularities surrounding the construction of a college in Kilifi.

The trio is slated to appear in court in Mombasa on Friday to answer to the charges.

Balala is confronting ten charges arising from accusations that the Tourism Fund made fraudulent payments totaling Sh8.5 billion for the establishment of the Coast branch of Kenya Utalii College, later renamed Ronald Ngala Utalii College.

"The arrest follows investigations by the commission into the irregular payment of Sh8.5 billion from the Tourism Fund, of which Sh4 billion was paid to Baseline Architects Limited for consultancy services for the proposed Ronald Ngala Utalii College in Vipingo, Kilifi County," revealed the EACC in an official statement.

The overnight detainment of Balala, Gwiyo, and Odero preceded their transportation to Kilifi early on Friday.

Notably, EACC had submitted a comprehensive report on its investigations to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) two weeks ago, leading to charges against a total of 16 individuals.

However, thirteen other suspects, including key figures such as Allan Wafula, Joseph Rotich, Morris Njue, and Dominic Motanya, remain at large.

The charges brought against the apprehended trio include wilful failure to comply with procurement laws, unlawful acquisition of public property, and abuse of office. Processing took place at the Integrity Centre Police Station.

During Balala's tenure as Cabinet Secretary, the construction project enlisted Mulji Devral and Brothers Company as the contractor.

The venture, initially managed by Kenya Utalii College, later shifted to the Ministry of Tourism.

The government's vision was to alleviate pressure on the Nairobi-based Utalii College by establishing a modern complex equipped with kitchens, sports facilities, and conference rooms.

The arrests underscore a larger effort to address corruption allegations within the Tourism Fund and maintain accountability in public projects.