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EACC targets magistrate in Waititu graft case

Thursday May 30 2019

Corruption

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chief executive officer Twalib Mbarak addresses a meeting on the anti-corruption drive, on May 29, 2019 at Serena Hotel. He observed that cases involving high-profile individuals are prosecuted at a slow pace. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

 NYAMBEGA GISESA
By NYAMBEGA GISESA
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Investigations into the multimillion scandal involving Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waitutu has taken a new twist after the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) filed a complaint against the magistrate who granted the county boss anticipatory bail.

The EACC claims the magistrate was on sick-off when he granted the bail and wants him investigated.

“The Commission received credible information that the said Brian Khaemba was on sick off on that day... that he only appeared... to hear the application and thereafter left the station,” the letter written by EACC chief executive officer Twalib Mbarak to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) reads in part.

Since he issued the orders on May 23, Mr Khaemba, who is also a long-serving Secretary-General of the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association, has maintained silence despite the hue and cry.

Mr Mbarak filed the complaint Wednesday after attending a meeting involving religious leaders, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji in which he said that the commission is tired of only winning cases which involved “chicken thieves” in court.

PREJUDICE

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This was in reference to the courts finalising cases involving petty offenders and small-time corruption while dragging their feet on those involving the “big fish” caught in multimillion and multibillion scandals.

“I’m not directing blame at the Judiciary, but our legal system seems to work to the advantage of big thieves at the expense of small ones whose cases are finalised in a few months.”

In the long-run, he said, the judicial system needed to be reviewed. “For now, it’s very slow in making the big fish pay for their crimes,” Mr Mbarak said.

While the EACC boss acknowledged more convictions of corrupt individuals, he said the wins largely involved cases of the most junior officers or those involving small amounts of money.

MISCONDUCT

He said he does not understand why small-time thieves are being jailed faster than those who steal larger amounts of public funds.

If the JSC decides to investigate the conduct of Mr Khaemba, he won’t be the first court official to go down in disgrace.

In March, the Supreme Court upheld a tribunal ruling that found former High Court judge Joseph Mutava guilty of misconduct.

The judge was suspended in May 2016 over the manner in which he handled the multibillion shilling Goldenberg scandal where, among other issues, he acquitted its chief architect, Mr Kamlesh Pattni.