All eyes on vetting team as politicians fight to clear ‘tainted’ names

Monday April 17 2017

Embakasi Central MP John Ndirangu addressing the Media in Nairobi on April 17, 2017 where he denied claims that he is financing a criminal group terrorising city residents.  PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Embakasi Central MP John Ndirangu addressing the Media in Nairobi on April 17, 2017 where he denied claims that he is financing a criminal group terrorising city residents. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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By PATRICK LANG'AT
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All eyes will be on vetting agencies to prove that the elusive adherence to the integrity code among politicians will at least be implemented in the upcoming elections.

From the famous Chapter Six of the Constitution, aspirants were supposed to pass a tough integrity test which among others requires them be honest, not to have abused office or misused public resources.

They should also not have falsified records, engaged in unprofessional conduct and committed a sexual offence or any other crime punishable in a Court of law.

However, the implementation of this ambitious law has largely been a dilemma to both political parties and vetting agencies, as aspirants argue the final decision should be by the voters.

Last week, a multi-agency committee that includes Attorney-General Githu Muigai, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Ethics and anti-Corruption Commission (Eacc), and the Registrar of Political Parties said those convicted of crimes, for example, will be barred from contesting, unless they have appealed the sentences.

“The institutions will enforce compliance with the leadership and integrity requirements by aspirants in the forthcoming General Election,” the committee said in a joint statement.

BLOCK MP

“It is the duty of every citizen, and indeed every stakeholder in the electoral process to ensure that candidates for election possess the required threshold of integrity,” the agencies said

The statement came after some voters in Embakasi Central Constituency wrote to the vetting agencies seeking that current Embakasi MP John Ndirangu be barred from running in the next elections arguing he is a convict.

The voters who attached proof that they were registered at Mwangaza polling station in the Constituency argued through their lawyer that it was “a matter of public knowledge” that the sitting MP is a former convict found guilty of abuse of office during his time as Mayor of Nairobi.

While still Mayor in January 2004, Mr Ndirangu was found guilty on two counts of obtaining by false pretences and uttering a false document. The Magistrates Court fined him Sh100, 000 on each count or be jailed for a year. He opted to pay the fine.

The Court had found that he had falsely presented to the, now defunct, City Council of Nairobi claims of house allowance, which he was entitled to only if he was renting a house.

He would receive Sh80,000 a month after presenting his rental house as LR 97/2337.

PETITION DISMISSED

Later, he amended the claim to LR 2387 in Avenue Park. Prosecutors, however, proved that the latter plot number was non-existent in Nairobi and that the first plot number in fact belonged to the Mayor, meaning that he had been receiving the allowance fraudulently.

In 2013, the Ombudsman wrote to the IEBC opposing his nomination as The National Alliance’s (TNA) aspirant. But Mr Njoroge went on to win the seat, beating ODM’s Lameck Siage 37,168 to 20,623 votes.

After the poll, NGO Kituo Cha Sheria petitioned the Court to nullify his election. Justice George Kimondo agreed that the MP had low integrity, but still dismissed the petition because it had been filed by a non-voter.

“The 1st respondent, on the face of it, fails the qualification or integrity test under article 99 (2) (h). He was convicted of abuse of office charges on January 14, 2004. He did not appeal the decision,” the judge said in a petition filed against the MP and the IEBC.

“If this petition had been brought by a competent party the question whether the 1st respondent qualified for nomination and whether the 2nd respondent (IEBC) erred in clearing him was not entirely without merit,” he argues.

Mr Ndirangu though is one among several aspirants facing integrity questions, which if proved would see them locked out of the polls.

HASSAN JOHO CERTIFICATE

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho is fighting to clear his name from forgery claims while elsewhere, a petitioner in Eldoret wants Uasin Gishu governorship aspirant Zedekiah Buzeki to prove his academic qualification.

Peris Simam, former MP for Eldoret South, found guilty of misusing CDF money last year is seeking to be Woman Rep for Uasin Gishu.

Last month, the Jubilee Party barred former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga from taking part in their primaries, saying his past criminal record was the reason.

Mr Njenga however got a nod from Kanu, which incidentally supports Jubilee Party.

Raphael Tuju, the Jubilee Secretary-General argued his party was sifting through documents presented by aspirants and would disqualify anyone found to have falsified records even if they win nominations.

“We do not want to present to the IEBC candidates who will be disqualified (on integrity grounds), because that means it is the Jubilee which loses,” he argued.
The vetting agencies say those who have run out of windows to appeal will be locked out.