Six Kenya MPs named in drug baron scandal

Wednesday December 22 2010

Top from left: Mr Harun Mwau, Mr Ali Hassan Joho and Mr Gideon Mbuvi. Bottom from left: Mr William Kabogo, Mr Simon Mbugua and Mr Eugene Wamalwa. Photos/FILE

Top from left: Mr Harun Mwau, Mr Ali Hassan Joho and Mr Gideon Mbuvi. Bottom from left: Mr William Kabogo, Mr Simon Mbugua and Mr Eugene Wamalwa. Photos/FILE 

By CAROLINE WAFULA [email protected]

Six Members of Parliament and a Mombasa tycoon were on Wednesday named in the House in connection with the drugs trade.

Internal Security Minister George Saitoti informed the House that MPs Ali Hassan Joho (Kisauni), William Kabogo (Juja), Harun Mwau (Kilome) and Gideon Mbuvi alias Mike Sonko (Makadara) and Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani are being investigated for alleged drug trafficking.

MPs had demanded to know who among them was being investigated over allegations of being drug barons.

The names are in a US embassy dossier which ambassador Michael Ranneberger gave to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (Kacc) last month.

Mr Kabogo had a dossier of his own, which he claimed also named Saboti MP Eugene Wamalwa and Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua. He also said it implicates the wife of “a very senior person in the country”.

Though he tabled the document, it was not immediately accepted by Speaker Kenneth Marende, who said he would investigate its authenticity first. Mr Kabogo was adamant the report was from the American embassy.

He said Prime Minister Raila Odinga had confirmed he had the same dossier in his possession. But Mr Marende ruled the dossier would not be available to MPs until this afternoon when he will rule whether it is admissible.

Prof Saitoti could not confirm the names, saying he had not gone through the document carefully. “I have asked the police to give me information on the MPs they are investigating together with Kacc. These are the only four who have been brought to my attention,” the minister said.

He said he received the report two days ago. “As far as Hon Kabogo’s dossier is concerned, I have to go through it and do some cross-checking, Mr Speaker I will not shy from saying the truth,” he added.

Mr Odinga said he received the documents formally from the US Ambassador, but resisted the temptation to name the MPs mentioned and left it to be dealt with by the competent authorities.

He revealed that a task-force had been set up to deal with the matter and investigations were ongoing. He said the probe will probably take two months as it would involve cross border investigations.

MPs expressed fears the investigation could be used by politicians to cover up drug trafficking. They demanded a timeline.

Lands Minister James Orengo said the matter was serious, especially since six MPs had been mentioned in connection with an issue as grave as drug trafficking. “It is also good for us to know so that we are not held as accomplices when relating with the MPs,” he said.

Gichugu MP Martha Karua said it was important for the country to know whether the investigations would be done purely by police or whether the taskforce would be under the Prime Ministers’ office. “If it will be under your ministry then there are doubt,” she said.

Mr Kabogo and Mr Joho denied all links to drug dealing and insisted that those who had mentioned them be investigated for “peddling falsehoods”. They said they welcomed thorough investigations.

Mr Joho demanded unsuccessfully that his name be removed from the list until investigations are concluded, saying the allegations against him were scandalous and meant ‘to kill him politically.’

He demanded that the minister undertakes to punish to the fullest extent of the law those who named him if he is found innocent. He said he had never dealt in drugs.

Mr Wamalwa said he was shocked his name was there. “I thought my ears were not hearing right,” said the Saboti MP. He asked that he be allowed to read the document and give a personal statement at the next sitting.

Prof Saitoti pointed out that those named were innocent until proven guilty, promising that the law would take its course. The minister said there was a combined team of authorities that was handling the cases.

“We will do the best we can to ensure the issue is addressed accordingly because it has damaged the reputation of this country.” He promised to push for speedy investigations within the next one month. However, he said he had no power over Kacc.

Prof Saitoti informed the House that Mr Kabogo had written to him a ‘very lengthy letter’ complaining about being mentioned and asking for thorough investigations.

Mr Mbuvi described the report “as full of false allegations”. The saga started after Prof Saitoti issued a statement on Tuesday’s incident in which Mr Mbuvi complained that three senior police officers had forced their way into his parliamentary office at Continental House.

The minister told the House that the officers were investigating whether Mr Mbuvi was linked to drug trafficking and that the member had invited them to his office, an assertion the MP denied.

Mutito MP Kiema Kilonzo then asked the minister to confirm that he had a received the report from the American Embassy, further demanding that the minister names the MPs mentioned to avoid blanket condemnation of MPs.