Economy

Uhuru tells officers named in EACC report to step aside

uhuru

President Uhuru Kenyatta addressing a special joint Senate and National Assembly sitting on March 27, 2015. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI

Faced with calls to tame graft in the Civil Service, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday made the boldest step by directing all government officials named in a corruption dossier that he tabled in Parliament to step aside, pending the conclusion of investigations into the claims.

Of late, Cabinet Secretaries and Principal Secretaries have been publicly named in cases that touched on their integrity.

The President also ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko and Attorney-General Prof Githu Muigai to prosecute the culprits and conclude the cases within the next 60 days.

Under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, a person charged can be fined up to Sh1 million fine and a jail term of up to 10 years or both if found guilty. They would also vacate their positions and are banned from holding public posts.

The annexed dossier, which had been given to the President as a classified copy by Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Chief Executive Officer Halakhe Waqo, was tabled in Parliament as part of the State of the Nation address.

It was one of the three reports that he tabled in the House. It lists names of individuals linked to corruption scandals, according to the President, and includes five Cabinet secretaries, six county governors and three dozen other public officials.

The revelations might not be good news for Energy and Petroleum secretary Davis Chirchir and Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Isaack Hassan who were linked to corruption in the procurement of printing materials at the electoral body.

Mr Chirchir and Hassan were accused of taking bribes to award British printer Smith and Ouzman multi-million shillings contracts to print electoral materials.

Two of the former managers of the printing firm were convicted and sentenced by a British court for bribing Kenyan officials to win lucrative tenders.

READ: UK court sends ‘chickengate’ duo to prison for five years

Also in focus is Defence principal secretary Mutea Iringo whose name has featured prominently in the bribery claims against the chairman and members of the Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Iringo has denied allegations that he gave Sh1.5 million to five members of PAC to influence its report on the investigations into the Sh2.8 billion confidential expenditure by the office of the President.

Mr Kenyatta declared that he had personally drawn the line on pervasive corruption and challenged Parliament and Judiciary to do the same.

“The CEO of EACC says the institution and especially its secretariat is under siege because of the nature of cases they are currently investigating. I ask this House to deal with this matter expeditiously.

“For the sake of transparency, I attach a confidential report from CEO of the commission as annexure to my report to this House,” Mr Kenyatta said amid a standing ovation from MPs.

He directed that all officials of the national and county government adversely mentioned mention in the report to immediately step aside pending the conclusion of investigations.

“Whether you are a Cabinet secretary, principal secretary, a CEO of State corporation, chairman or CEO of independent commissions or county government officials to immediately step aside pending conclusion of investigations into the corruption claims. I equally expect the Legislature and the Judiciary will also do the same,” he said.

The President told Parliament to move with speed and determine the fate of EACC chairman Mumo Matemu and his two deputies, Irene Keino and Prof Jane Onsongo, following a petition to the House for their removal.

Amid standing ovation, Mr Kenyatta said: “EACC is embroiled in finger pointing likely to subvert the cause of justice. I don’t fire, kazi ni yenu yakuwatoa. Watoeni nyinyi (the job is yours to remove. You remove them).”

President Kenyatta said from the report of the EACC secretariat, he believes that the fight between the commissioners and the secretariat is a further attempt to subvert successive prosecution of the Anglo Leasing scandal suspects.

“From EACC to Parliament premier oversight committees, the corridors of justice and security agencies, Kenyans have witnessed betrayal of trust in the fight against corruption,” he said.

Mr Kenyatta said his determination to get back the billions of shillings lost in Anglo leasing scandal including the payment of Sh1.4 billion to shadowy Anglo Leasing firms to unlock Kenya’s first sovereign bond was being frustrated.

“EACC is required to uphold highest standard of personal responsibility. Let it be known that today I draw the line. Nobody will stand in the fight against corruption,” he declared.

READ: Court charges seven suspects over Anglo Leasing scandal

He told EACC to ensure that the DPP receives the subject files for individuals linked in the dossiers without delay.

“It is not my place to determine the guilt or otherwise on any of the people mentioned in the said report, but time has come for us to send a strong signal to the county that we will not expect anything less than highest standards of integrity,” Mr Kenyatta said.

He also touched on the recent scandals facing the House which cast aspersions on Parliament.

“I urge you to take urgent measures to restore the integrity and dignity of Parliament which is the cornerstone of our democracy. The war on corruption will never be won unless all arms of government play their role and act decisively against perpetrators of corruption,” he said.

President Kenyatta directed the Attorney-General to review the enabling legislations with a view to tightening the noose for prosecution of corrupt individuals.

The President has been under pressure to slay the dragon of corruption which has permeated almost every sphere of his government.

Parliamentary committees have been rocked with allegation of bribery, extortion and alteration of reports or disappearance of crucial evidence in favour of those under investigations.

The Powers and Privileges committee has finalized interrogation into claims of corruption by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) whose chairman Ababu Namwamba survived an ouster motion.

The President also called on Parliament approve the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report to facilitate restorative justice to the victims of past injustices.

Mr Kenyatta announced that he had directed the Treasury to set aside Sh10 billion fund over the next three years for restorative justice especially for the victims of 2007/08 post-election violence.

He said he had received files of 5574 perpetrators of post-election violence which the DPP said would not sustain a conviction and instead advised restorative justice.

The President tabled three reports on the implementation of  principles and values of the Constitution, the State of Security of the nation and the state of implementation and fulfillment of international obligations.

Mr Kenyatta arrived at Parliament buildings at 3.05pm for the Special Session of Parliament and was received by Deputy President William Ruto and the two Speakers Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Ekwee Ethuro (Senate).

He then proceeded to inspect a guard of honour mounted by the Kenya Air Force. He started his address to the nation twenty minutes after arriving at Parliament grounds.