President Uhuru Kenyatta challenged to come clear on graft commission's intrigues

Thursday April 2 2015

President Uhuru Kenyatta hands over a report to National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi (left) and Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro after the State of the Nation address in Parliament on March 26, 2015. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI

President Uhuru Kenyatta hands over a report to National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi (left) and Senate Speaker Ekwee Ethuro after the State of the Nation address in Parliament on March 26, 2015. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ANGELA OKETCH
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Some religious leaders and the private sector have asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to come clear on the forces that are claimed to be pushing top officials of the anti-corruption team to quit their jobs.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairman Mumo Matemu and his deputy, Irene Keino, on Wednesday claimed that they were asked to resign and promised jobs elsewhere.

Another commissioner, Prof Jane Onsongo, was allegedly summoned to the State Law Office and asked to resign with an offer for appointment as Kenya’s deputy ambassador the US.

Prof Onsongo has since resigned while Mr Matemu and Ms Keino have vowed to stay put.

HAS MANDATE

Those who spoke to the Nation include Bishop Winny Owiti (chair, Kisumu Clergy Fellowship), Father Ambrose Kimutai (Segemik Parish, Bomet), Bishop Ogonyo Ngede (chairman Kisumu bishops Association), Rev Kenneth Wachianga (Anglican Church, Maseno Diocese) and Israel Agina, chairman of the Kisumu business coalition.

They said it was the President who had the mandate to appoint individuals to jobs promised to the commissioners once they resign.

Ms Keino on Wednesday said she had been promised a position as a deputy ambassador to Brazil if she resigned.

The Matemu commission is supposed to investigate corruption allegations against 175 individuals whose names were tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

“Are we going to form another interim commission for the remaining 52 days to conduct an investigation which they did not carry? Something is not right. We should be told the truth on who is pushing the commissioners out,” she said.

Rev Wachianga asked the President not to use forced resignations as a means of interfering with the prosecution of those implicated in graft.

“Why does the President seek to interfere with the commission after submitting a graft list to Parliament?” he posed.

The leaders also asked the President to order police to arrest governors and senators implicated in the graft list, saying they were not immune from trial in a court of law.

REJECTED CALLS

A total of 13 governors have been implicated in the graft report over their alleged failure to account for millions in taxpayers’ money that they are accused of using to enrich themselves.

Council of Governors chairman Isaac Ruto last week rejected calls for their resignation, saying they were public officers elected to office.

Bishop Ngede, who also heads the Power of Jesus Around the World Church, said that should the commission be disbanded, the top leadership would never be trusted in the country.

“I think the commission is being targeted for having mentioned close aides of the top leadership," said Bishop Ngede.

Father Kimutai questioned why some of the top officials wanted the commission disbanded yet they had the authority to influence the arrest of corrupt leaders.

SONKO OUT

“How are the investigations going to be carried out if the commission is disbanded, or are we going to wait after 60 days then they get back to office?” he posed.

Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko on Wednesday stepped aside as Senate majority deputy whip, saying he would not seek elective politics if found guilty.

Other senators implicated in the report include James Orengo (Siaya) and Johnson Muthama of Machakos.

Mr Agina challenged the commissioners to stay put, saying they were not pleased with the direction the saga was taking.

“I am very sure that nothing concrete is going to come from the investigation team because they are under pressure to step down and leave their job,” he said.