Five top anti-corruption commission officials left office on Monday following the enactment of a new law passed by Parliament last week.
It was the end of the road for besieged Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) director Patrick Lumumba and his four deputies Dr John Mutonyi (investigations and asset recovery), Mr Pravin Bowry (legal services and asset recovery), Prof Jane Onsongo (education) and Mr Wilson Shollei (finance and administration).
President Kibaki signed into law the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Bill on Sunday. (READ: Kibaki signs key Bills) The law replaces KACC with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), and demands that the KACC director and his deputies vacate office to allow for new appointments.
However, middle level managers remain in office and will be absorbed by the new commission after being vetted.
The KACC Advisory Board chairman Okong’o Omogeni announced the departure of the senior officials last evening, noting that the five would be given adequate time to hand over to the board.
He said the board would appoint senior managers to oversee the agency’s work until new commissioners take office.
He allayed fears that the work of the commission would be interrupted.
“All court cases and all investigations shall continue,” he said.
KACC spokesman Nicholas Simani said the directors were clearing their desks.
“They are clearing their offices. They will hand over to our (advisory board) chairman in the afternoon,” he said.
Earlier, there were fears that the departure of the departure of the top officials would paralyse operations at Integrity Centre. The agency has been pursuing several cases, among them the Anglo Leasing scandal in which more than Sh18 billion was lost through shady deals and the Tokyo embassy scandal.
The commission recently completed investigations on tender scandals at Water ministry and forwarded the files to the Director of Public Prosecutions. It recommended prosecution of directors of some of the companies awarded the tenders and ministry officials.
Prof Lumumba’s exit was expedited by Parliament’s decision to amend the Anti-Corruption and Ethics Commission Bill to remove a clause protecting the jobs of the directors of the anti-graft team to ensure continuity.
Some of the MPs were angered by the war of words between Prof Lumumba and Tourism assistant minister Cecily Mbarire over claims her husband tried to bribe him with Sh100,000. (READ: Lumumba and Mbarire in bribe drama)
Broad Vision Utilities, a company owned by Ms Mbarire’s husband, Mr Dennis Apaa, was one of the firms investigated by KACC over irregular tender awards at the Water ministry.
The KACC Advisory Board has since launched investigations into the conduct of Prof Lumumba after the minister filed a complaint.
Parliament also stripped the new commission of powers to prosecute graft cases, claiming that this was duplicating duties with the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Prof Lumumba and his directors were expected to furnish the KACC board with the status of all the cases under investigations before leaving office.
Reported by Samuel Siringi, Peter Leftie and Fred Mukinda