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Governors now demand 'honourable arrests'

Monday May 27 2019

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu

Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu is arrested by detectives from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission after they raided his home at Kencom Estate on Kiambu Road on May 24, 2019. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JUSTUS OCHIENG'
By JUSTUS OCHIENG'
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Governors are demanding for “honourable arrests” following last Thursday’s seizure of Kiambu County’s Ferdinand Waititu over abuse-of-office charges.

In a day of high drama, EACC detectives raided two of Mr Waititu’s homes — one on Kiambu Road and another at Garden Estate in Runda — and ransacked them for five hours.

Search operations were also conducted in the county offices and homes of the county chief’s family members, directors of private companies, and 10 senior employees.

But the operation seems not to have gone down well with governors who are now demanding to be treated with “decorum” in case of future arrests.

Through their umbrella body, Council of Governors (CoG), the county chiefs say that whereas they do not condone graft, they do not deserve to be treated “guilty as charged even before being subjected to courts of law.”

MEDIA COVERAGE

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CoG Chairman Mr Wycliffe Oparanya said they were committed to the fight against corruption but maintained they must be treated with decorum by the crime busters by virtue of the authority of their offices.

“We don’t condone corruption and we are ready to fight it…but the way Waititu was arrested, being frog matched – was so inhuman especially someone of his stature,” Mr Oparanya told Nation.

He went on: “Why can’t they have decency? Just summon the Governor, tell him you wish to go to his house for a search instead of all these dramas in front of the media.”

He took issue with the anti-graft sleuths over their persistent use of the media for live coverage of such arrests.

“Why do they want to do their work in front of the media? That is embarrassment targeted on the county chiefs. There must be dignity because human right is guaranteed in the Constitution,” added Mr Oparanya.

ON EACC'S RADAR
EACC Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak said Mr Waititu irregularly awarded tenders worth Sh588 million to companies associated with him and his immediate family members.

Also on the EACC’s radar are Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria, Kitui’s Charity Ngilu and Tharaka-Nithi’s Muthomi Njuki.

Mr Wa Iria has already recorded a statement regarding the purchase of a 34-acre piece of land in Kabati at an alleged inflated price of Sh340 million.

Ms Ngilu has been questioned on allegations of procurement irregularities in the supply and delivery of five trucks at a cost of Sh59.75 million.

Mr Njuki, on the other hand, was questioned over the procurement of an incinerator said to have been bought for Sh4 million and sold to the county for Sh34 million.

FROG MATCHING
Mr Oparanya, the Kakamega Governor, insists the county executives must not be treated as criminals by investigators before being proved guilty.

“You frog match a governor in front of his constituents and family? it is not fair,” Mr Oparanya said.

“You are treating a whole governor as a criminal yet he has not been proved guilty. You are proving him guilty even before he is charged. I find that so bad and they should treat us with some dignity.”

Migori Governor Okoth Obado is also under EACC probe.

The county awarded a firm that Mr Obado is believed to have used to siphon over Sh2.5 billion on a road repair contract four months after the anti-graft watchdog froze its accounts, and informed the devolved unit of ongoing investigations.

COMPANIES
Janto Construction was in March 2018 awarded a tender to repair the Nyabisawa-Jumbo Road for Sh16.8 million, which the firm completed in July the same year after county officials expressed satisfaction with the works done.

The county then paid Sh16.8 million into Janto’s KCB account, which had been frozen on November 30, 2017 following Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigations into its alleged irregular procurement practices that could have cost taxpayers over Sh2.5 billion.

The EACC has narrowed down to 23 companies it believes Mr Obado used to win several tenders between 2013 and last year, tracing Sh2.3 billion to the suspected conduits.

Detectives have also unearthed 32 companies, 77 pieces of land and other assets.

PROPERTIES

For Mr Waititu, the Nation has established that the EACC detectives are after the bank accounts associated with him, his family members and proxies.

The financial institutions have been asked to provide a breakdown of all transactions including balance sheets of the bank accounts.

The agency is also looking at 35 different properties, which include luxurious mansions that the governor is constructing in Runda estate, the Delta Hotel building situated in Nairobi CBD worth billions of shillings and a luxurious tourist hotel located in Naivasha, to establish whether they were acquired through corruption or through proceeds of corruption.

By Friday, detectives had confirmed that most of the 12 personal cars recovered at the governor’s residences during the raid belonged to him.