Civil servants in JP foundation want to 'alleviate poverty’

Saturday June 17 2017

KRA Commissioner-General John Njiraini at Times Tower in Nairobi in March 2017. He said he attended the Jubilee Party's fundraiser on June 9 for Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election bid in his individual capacity. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

KRA Commissioner-General John Njiraini at Times Tower in Nairobi in March 2017. He said he attended the Jubilee Party's fundraiser on June 9 for Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election bid in his individual capacity. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By WALTER MENYA
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Three top public officers are among the registered officials of a Jubilee campaign lobby that describes itself as a public service organisation despite questions being raised on their role.

In recent weeks, the Opposition, the Commission on Administrative Justice and the Law Society of Kenya have sounded warnings against government employees being involved in partisan politics.

The Friends of Jubilee Foundation also includes the who’s who in the corporate world who are all supporting the re-election of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto. The organisation came into the limelight after organising an exclusive fundraiser for the Jubilee candidate in Nairobi last week that was said to have collected at least Sh1 billion.

Though the foundation is believed to be a Jubilee Party resource mobiliser and its registered officials are closely associated with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election campaign, it states in its constitution that its main objective is “to alleviate poverty, improve access to education, healthcare, water, sanitation, welfare services, and campaign against alcohol and drug abuse in Kenya”.

According to documents in possession of the Nation, Kenya Revenue Authority Commissioner General John Njiraini, who is among the State officers the National Super Alliance wants charged with being involved in partisan politics, is a board member of the foundation as well as a signatory to FJF’s bank accounts. Also on the board is Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge. He, too, is listed as a signatory to the foundation’s accounts.

Another public officer who sits on the board of the Foundation is the chairman of Kenya Leather Development Council Board Titus Ibui. According to the documents, Mr Ibui is the foundation’s secretary and also one of the signatories to the foundation’s bank accounts at Equity Bank. The foundation was registered on May 26, 2017 by the NGO Co-ordination Board, just two weeks before the Jubilee Party invite-only fundraising at Safari Park Hotel and Casino, Nairobi, where more than a billion shillings was raised in under two hours, in which both Mr Njiraini and Mr Njoroge were in attendance.

The exclusive dinner was organised by Friends of Jubilee Foundation and Mount Kenya Foundation, both of which are rooting for Mr Kenyatta's re-election for a second and final term as President.

Nasa has vowed to bring charges against Mr Njiraini and Mr Njoroge, among Cabinet secretaries and State officers they accuse of chasing votes for Jubilee if the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko does not act.

“Take notice that if you do not take appropriate action against the said officers within seven days from the date hereof, Nasa will have no alternative but to instruct our lawyers to institute private prosecutions against each and every one of the officers without further reference to you,” Nasa’s head of legal services Paul Mwangi formally informed Mr Tobiko on Thursday. LSK President Isaac Okero on June 12 also wrote to the chairperson of Public Service Commission Margaret Kobia that “the said officers be the subject of investigations by the Public Service Commission, in discharge of its mandate under Section 3(3) of the Public Officer Ethics Act and Section 4 of the Public Service Commission Act” for flagrant violation of the Leadership and Integrity Act.

NO COMMENT

Contacted, Prof Kobia said she was yet to receive the LSK letter and would therefore not comment on the matter. “I am out of office till Monday next week. I have not received the letter you are referring to,” she said in a short text message to the Nation.

Mr Njiraini has stated he attended the Jubilee fundraiser in his individual capacity and not as the KRA's commissioner general.

Besides Nasa and the LSK, the CAJ (Ombudsman) has also issued an advisory opinion in which it cautions appointed public officers to refrain from participating in the activities of political parties.

“Appointed public officers who wish to participate in politics or support any political party or candidate should resign from their positions immediately,” acting CAJ chairperson Dr Regina Mwatha said on June 5.

'STRICT COMPLIANCE'

The CAJ further asked the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and Mr Tobiko to “monitor and ensure strict compliance with the Election Offences Act, 2016 and other election laws”.

“In cases of breach of the law, investigations and appropriate action, including prosecution, disqualification, surcharge and removal from office should be undertaken,” Dr Mwatha stated in the advisory opinion.

The foundation’s other officials are the chairman of the foundation and businessman John P.N. Simba who also chairs the board of LafargeHolcim, the parent company of Bamburi Cement (chairman), SportPesa tycoon Paul W. Ndung’u (treasurer), Equity Bank founder Peter K. Munga, former CMC director Joel Kibe who in March was involved in an accident which caused the death of a security guard in Runda estate, President Kenyatta’s brother George Muhoho whom Nasa has also linked to the shady Dubai firm, Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing which was directly awarded the tender to print the ballot papers for the August 8 General Election, and billionaire businessman Peter Muthoka.