Matemu resigns as EACC boss - Daily Nation

Tribunal in limbo as Matemu quits top anti-graft job

Tuesday May 12 2015

Former Ethics and anti-Corruption Commission chairman Mumo Matemu before the Senate Committee on Legal Affairs on April 2, 2015. The recruitment of new bosses of the anti-Corruption Commission started on May 13, 2015 a day after Mr Matemu resigned. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU |

Former Ethics and anti-Corruption Commission chairman Mumo Matemu before the Senate Committee on Legal Affairs on April 2, 2015. The recruitment of new bosses of the anti-Corruption Commission started on May 13, 2015 a day after Mr Matemu resigned. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AGGREY MUTAMBO
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The suspended chairman of the anti-corruption commission, Mr Mumo Matemu, resigned on Tuesday evening, becoming the last anti-graft commissioner to leave the office.

The other two commissioners, Ms Irene Keino and Prof Josephine Onsongo quit in April and March respectively.

Mr Matemu, who had been at the helm of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) since 2012, said he was leaving office for the sake of a sustained war against corruption.

‘‘I have taken this considered decision solely for the purpose of subordinating my personal rights to the greater public good in the fight against corruption,” he said.

When Ms Keino quit on April 30, she said that she had taken the decision to spare her family from the anguish of going through a judicial process. Ms Keino had served as Mr Matemu’s deputy.

Prof Onsongo resigned in March, citing pressure from outsiders.

Last month, President Uhuru Kenyatta named a tribunal led by retired High Court judge Jonathan Havelock to investigate the conduct of the commissioners. The other members were Ms Margaret Wambui, Mr Muathe Issa and Juster Nkoroi.

With the resignation of Mr Matemu, the tribunal — which was formed on the recommendation of the National Assembly — can now not sit because there is no one to investigate. The team had been given 60 days to report back to the President.

PETITION

The decision to remove Mr Matemu and Ms Keino from office was triggered by a petition submitted to the National Assembly by Mr Geoffrey Oriaro, who had argued that the two were incapable of leading the war against corruption. MPs voted in favour of removing them and gave the recommendation to the President.

By forming a tribunal to investigate the two, Mr Kenyatta appeared to give a seal of approval to the EACC secretariat headed by Mr Halakhe Waqo.

The President had said that the suspension of Mr Matemu and Ms Keino would not affect the ongoing investigations and prosecutions of corruption cases.

However, the Commission for Implementation of the Constitution had threatened to go to court after the two were suspended, arguing that lack of commissioners meant EACC was incapacitated.

EACC has been investigating numerous graft cases involving public officers who were named in a list that it submitted to the President who in turn handed it over to the National Assembly. Some of the files have already been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Keriako Tobiko.

On Monday, Mr Tobiko directed EACC to start the process of removing two URP MPs — Mr Alfred Keter and Ms Sunjeev Birdi — from office over integrity. He also gave the green light for Murang’a Governor Mwangi Wa Iria to be prosecuted for forging documents related to his vetting for the position.

Yesterday, Mr Wa Iria attempted to stop his arrest and prosecution over the case but the court directed that the matter be heard today.

EACC has also taken to court seven suspects over the Anglo Leasing scandal, which involved billions of shillings lost in procurement scandals 11 years ago. Among those who have been charged are former Finance Minister David Mwiraria, former Permanent Secretary Dave Mwangi, former Head of Debt Management at the Treasury, Mr David Onyonka and former Finance PS Joseph Magari.

Mr Matemu’s stay at the EACC was controversial from the start. He was appointed in 2012 into an office that had had a controversial turnover of anti-corruption bosses in the past decade. This was after another personal battle.

When he was nominated by the Grand Coalition principals, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, several integrity issues came to the fore, leading a Parliamentary Committee on legal affairs to recommend that he be dropped.

The decision was later reversed during debate on the report about him.

When Mr Matemu was first proposed to chair EACC, he had been met with a truckload of accusations, including claims that he controversially wrote off loans for a city tycoon while serving at a farmers’ parastatal.

Some of the documents tabled on the floor alleged that he had failed to collect Sh2.4 billion in taxes when he served as Head of Litigation at the Kenya Revenue Authority and that he had had a hand in running down the Agricultural Finance Corporation by writing off loans of up to Sh5 billion.

Despite the allegations, Mr Matemu survived when MPs endorsed his name with the thinnest of margins: 50 in his favour, 49 against.

President Kibaki initially delayed the appointment before finally announcing it five months later in May 2012.