Cord leader Raila Odinga has retracted his earlier claim that Central Bank of Kenya Chairman Mohamed Nyaoga took part in the Eurobond scam even as he backed a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko to inquire further into the matter.
Mr Odinga said that Mr Nyaoga and Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo never took part in the alleged theft of Eurobond money and said he had only included them as “persons of interest” because of the public offices they hold.
He said that the designation did not mean they were involved in graft or that there was evidence to link them to corruption.
Mr Odinga, challenged Mr Tobiko’s office to get to the bottom of the matter.
On Friday, Mr Tobiko said investigations into the Eurobond saga were incomplete, noting that there were gaps in the report by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission submitted to him and which needed to be filled before he could decide on whether to finally close the matter.
Earlier, Mr Odinga retracted his previous claim that Mr Nyaoga and Ms Odhiambo were involved in any corruption.
“We just put (Ms Odhiambo’s) name there by virtue of her position. That’s the same thing with the chairman of the Central Bank. What we said is that, as the chairman of the Central Bank, he has a public duty to convene meetings of the board and to discuss these issues and to guide the public. We never said he was involved in any way in a negative sense.”
The Cord leader’s January 14 move to name people he accused of taking part in the “grand robbery of Kenya by agents of State through the much-talked about Eurobond” has caused a storm of controversy.
Mr Odinga released the list after he had given the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Keriako Tobiko, three days to “name the Eurobond thieves” or he would do so himself.
Among those listed were Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, Treasury PS Kamau Thugge and former CBK Governor Njuguna Ndung’u.
Others were Accountant-General Bernard Ndung’u, CBK acting financial markets director John Birech, CBK financial management director Moses Muthui and Mr Patrick Kamau.
Speaking on Thursday, Mr Odinga said he had not meant to imply that all the “persons of interest” were involved in graft.
He named Mr Nyaoga and Ms Odhiambo as among those he only included because of the positions they hold.
“A person of interest does not impute improper motive or that you were involved in corruption. Not at all. I think the media needs to change this. Because other people now feel that they are thieves. That is not true at all. I have no issue with Mr Nyaoga. It’s only that he’s the Central Bank chairman. The same with madam Agnes Odhiambo.”
The Eurobond saga is set to move to court this week when Mr Nyaoga lodges a defamation suit against Mr Odinga over his inclusion in the controversial dossier.
An exchange of letters between the lawyers for Mr Odinga and Mr Nyaoga last week sketched out the legal battle ahead, with lawyers for the CBK chairman saying Mr Odinga’s “baseless, malicious, reckless and unwarranted accusation” had caused their client “enormous loss and damage”.
“We note with deep concern that in mentioning our client adversely there was no slightest effort on your part to provide any substantiation and/or particulars regarding the role our client may have played in the alleged scandal,” wrote lawyer Ken Ogeto on January 15.
“We expect that a leader of your stature and calibre should uphold the highest standards of respect for the fundamental rights of other people and thus you should not make unsubstantiated claims aimed at gaining political mileage by tarnishing the names of law abiding citizens,” he noted.
Mr Ogeto cited Mr Odinga’s January 14 statement when he had said he was naming the “key players, the persons of interest, in this saga of deceit, collusion, and cover-up”.
He said the claim constituted “a serious affront on the character, standing and reputation that our client has painstakingly and scrupulously built over the past 20 years”.
Mr Odinga’s lawyer, Mr Paul Mwangi, wrote back on January 20.
He stated that Mr Nyaoga had been included in the list because of the position he held in public office, a point which seems to be in tandem with Mr Odinga’s statement on Thursday that he did not have evidence to link the CBK chair and Controller of Budget to corruption.
Mr Mwangi contended that Mr Nyaoga had failed to discharge his duties as chairman of the board by not informing the public on the Eurobond saga while the controversy was in public domain.
Lawyers for Mr Nyaoga said they would file the suit this week.
They said that Mr Nyaoga was appointed nearly a year after the Eurobond transaction had concluded and that the CBK board was yet to be constituted after the old members left.
On Saturday, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya waded into the dispute, saying the public debate on the Eurobond was “full of perceptions and energy consuming counter-accusations”.
CEO Patrick Ngumi said constitutional offices had demonstrated the funds had flowed into the country but called for an audit of how various ministries used it.
“The biggest challenge and pursuit that every Kenyan of good faith should follow up on the Eurobond debate, is to hold accountable all accounting officers of government ministries, departments and agencies on the value their respective institutions have delivered to Kenyans upon utilisation of public resources, which include Eurobond funds. As an additional assurance, ICPAK recommends that the office of the Auditor-General should conduct value for money audits on all public funds, programmes and projects.”
On Saturday, while at Luanda, Vihiga County, Mr Odinga said: “Mr Tobiko had closed the matter; but on Friday he said there is a need for further investigations. This is welcome”.
Mr Odinga was speaking at the burial of Mrs Phoebe Andeso, the mother-in-law of his daughter, Rosemary.
He was accompanied by his wife, Ida, daughter Rosemary, brother Oburu Oginga (nominated MP), Vihiga Senator George Khaniri, Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga, Wilbur Otichillo (Emuhaya MP) and Chris Omulele (Luanda).
Former National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende also attended the burial. Mr Odinga told the mourners to register as voters in large numbers.