EACC staff to be vetted, says chairman

The agency had over a week ago cleared Ms Waiguru of any wrongdoing.

Saturday February 20 2016

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Chairperson Philip Kinisu during a press conference on corruption cases in Kenya at the body's offices in Nairobi. Mr Kinisu on February 19, 2016 said vetting was to ensure a fresh start and that it would not be used to victimise anyone. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Chairperson Philip Kinisu during a press conference on corruption cases in Kenya at the body's offices in Nairobi. Mr Kinisu on February 19, 2016 said vetting was to ensure a fresh start and that it would not be used to victimise anyone. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ISAAC ONGIRI
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All the staff of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) will be vetted afresh as the new team headed by Chairman Philip Kinisu seeks to put its house in order.

The EACC has been under intense pressure following new evidence that placed former Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru at the heart of the Sh791 million National Youth Service scandal.

The agency had over a week ago cleared Ms Waiguru of any wrongdoing, but backtracked after businesswoman Josephine Kabura’s affidavit portrayed the former CS as the architect of the scandal.

Chief Executive Halakhe Wako and the Deputy Chief Executive (Operations), Mr Michael Mubea, top the list of the officials to be vetted.

Mr Kinisu on Friday said the aim was to ensure a fresh start and that it would not be used to victimise anyone.

He said the commission had suffered negative public perception with a feeling it was ineffective and largely biased, adding that the new team had been working out ways to come up with a strategy to crackdown on wanton corruption.

“The law provides for the vetting. This will not be done with a view to sacking individuals, but to ensure we have the right people in place for the work we want to do,” he said.

The new tough-talking anti-corruption czar also announced that his commission would carry out a lifestyle audit of government workers deployed in lucrative departments and state agencies as part of the fight against corruption.

“Lifestyle audits will be done on all those who work in ‘wet areas’. The message is clear: You steal public resources and there will be nowhere to hide,” Mr Kinisu warned.

EACC'S DEFENCE
He added that the commission had reopened investigations into the NYS and Chickengate scandals.

The commission, the Banking Fraud Investigations Division, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and even the Judiciary had been blamed for attempts to cover up the theft thought to be in the tune of Sh1.6 billion.

Ms Kabura, a suspect in the Sh791 NYS scandal, alleges in the damning affidavit that investigators from the banking fraud unit bailed her out and faked arrests, while escorting her to sleep in her own house instead of being locked up in the police cells.

She claims she was also tipped off about raids by EACC detectives at her house and asked to remove any incriminating evidence in the fake searches.

Mr Kinisu also announced that the focus of his new team would be on corruption prevention, warning that accounting officers, including Principal Secretaries and chief executive officers of state corporations and agencies, must be ready to take responsibility for commissions and omissions under their jurisdictions.

His team would go full blast on boosting its operational capacity by hiring more staff and spreading to the counties to “engage effectively”, he said.

Addressing the media just a month after taking over the mantle, Mr Kinisu said the new team was rolling out a fresh strategy to ensure an effective war on graft.

The commission has been on the spot over its handling of some of the high-profile anti-corruption cases — with queries raised at the pace at which it investigated and cleared Ms Waiguru of the graft allegations against her.

The commission released a letter through social media exonerating Ms Waiguru from corruption allegations and in a curious about-turn announced on Tuesday it was reopening investigations following the emergence of new evidence.

The move followed the filing of the explosive affidavit.

On Friday, however, Mr Kinisu defended the commission’s earlier position on Ms Waiguru, saying the letter discharging her was released after she was found not culpable or linked in any way to four previous cases under investigations in the NYS saga.

WORK IN PROGRESS
He sought to reassure the public that the reopened case would be thoroughly and professionally investigated as required by the law and a report forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for action.

“We want to state that we are not trying to sanitise anyone in the Sh791 million case. We promise thorough investigations,” he said.

Mr Kinisu said an analysis of the Chickengate case involving the defunct Interim Independent Electoral and Commission chiefs and the Kenya National Examination Council officials in a case involving a British firm would be forwarded to the DPP in two weeks.

“We have received a report on mutual legal assistance from British authorities through the office of the Attorney-General and the information on the Chickengate case is being processed. In the next two weeks, the recommendations will be forwarded to the DPP,” Mr Kinisu said.

Present at the press conference were EACC officials Sophia Lepuchirit, Rose Mghoi Mtambo Macharia, Dabar Maalim Abdi and Paul Mwaniki Gachoka.

The UK Government prosecuted two Britons involved in the Chickengate scandal in which electoral commission and national examination officials are said to have pocketed Sh50 million in bribes to award tenders to UK firm Smith & Ouzman Ltd.

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