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Why MPs teamed up to cripple war on graft

Fifty-eight MPs who voted to have top anti-corruption officials sacked are being investigated for various offences, including misuse of the Constituency Development Fund.

The lawmakers are being investigated over suspicion that they may have taken bribes and misused the CDF kitty.

Last week, the lawmakers voted to send home the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission’s Chief Executive Officer Halakhe Waqo and his deputy Michael Mubea.

Integrity Centre

Integrity Centre

But it now turns out that a majority of the MPs recorded as having voted for the Motion, including the sponsor Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa, are being investigated by the commission.

Hansard records indicate that many of the MPs on the commission’s radar voted in support of the amendment moved by the Kiminini MP, despite spirited efforts by Majority Leader Aden Duale to have it rejected.

LEADERS CRITICISED

President Uhuru Kenyatta has already indicated that he may not assent to the Bill, while Cord leader Raila Odinga has condemned the MPs who supported the amendment, terming them “rogue”.

“There were no consultations and Cord did not make a decision on this issue,” said Mr Odinga on Sunday.

The positions taken by both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga clearly indicates that the MPs’ decision did not have the support of their respective parties and leadership.

The leaders being investigated for alleged corruption and misuse of CDF monies include 27 members of the former Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and 29 members of the Agriculture committee.

Yesterday, highly placed sources at the commission, who cannot be named because they are not authorised to speak on behalf of the anti-graft agency, told the Nation that all the MPs in the two House committees had been questioned by anti-corruption detectives.

PAC, whose members traded bribery accusations, prompting a parliamentary investigation, has since been dissolved on the recommendations of the Powers and Privileges Committee that also banned its chairman Ababu Namwamba and five of his colleagues from reappointment to the watchdog.

The MPs are being investigated for allegedly receiving Sh1.5 million from suspended Defence Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo, to expunge his name from the committee’s report on unexplained expenditure at the Office of the President.

A member of the defunct committee, Suna East MP Junet Mohammed, however, maintained that the anti-corruption agency recorded statements from only five MPs.

“Only the five MPs who are alleged to have received bribes recorded statements, the rest of us have not,” he said.

On the other hand, members of the Agriculture committee are being investigated over claims that they received Sh60 million in bribes to remove the names of former Mumias Sugar Company managers from a report on irregular activities in the sugar sector.

Lugari MP Ayub Savula, who sat in the Agriculture committee, confirmed that a number of his colleagues had recorded statements, but denied that this could have influenced the voting on the amendment.

“It has nothing to do with the way MPs voted even though I think that the President should not assent to the Bill because it would kill the war against corruption. MPs should not be misused to fight the commission,” he said.

Five other MPs are facing charges in court relating to corruption and abuse of office. They include Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills), Sunjeev Birdi (nominated), Julius Ndegwa (Lamu West), Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South), Peter Shehe (Ganze).

Also being investigated is Kasarani MP John Njoroge Chege over bribery claims and Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang’ over abuse of office. Mr Kajwang’ has challenged the commission’s investigations and refused to appear before its detectives, arguing that it is not properly constituted to discharge its mandate.

“Considering events which occurred on the floor of the August House and, particularly, actions of the President this morning, it’s my considered opinion that the commission is not competently constituted either to interview me on any information or receive any written statement,” Mr Kajwang’ said in a letter to the commission’s Director of Investigations, Mr Abdi Mohammed dated April 23.

He was referring to President Kenyatta’s decision to suspend former commission chairman Mumo Matemu and another commissioner Irene Keino and form a tribunal to investigate their suitability to continue holding office. They have since resigned.

If the President assents to the Bill, Mr Waqo and Mr Mubea will be in office in an acting capacity until their replacements are appointed.

They would be forced to leave office in the same manner as former director, Prof PLO Lumumba, who was kicked out when the EACC Act was enacted in 2011. At that time, the MPs deliberately targeted Prof Lumumba in the amendments to the Bill.

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