As the political storm over the gold scandal intensified Monday, the Orange Democratic Movement accused Deputy President William Ruto's allies of targeting Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i for removal from office over his purported link to the scandal.
The ODM chairman, Mr John Mbadi, said two MPs from Murang’a and Kericho counties had been instructed to collect signatures to push for Dr Matiang’i’s removal, purportedly for gross violation of the Constitution and gross misconduct.
The scandal has caused a political storm after an audio recording of a conversation believed to be between Mr Ali Zandi and a Kenyan politician was leaked to the public.
In the recording, the politician informs the Sheikh that Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga would seek President Kenyatta's help to have him order the release of the consignment of gold alleged to have been seized by Kenyan authorities.
The name of Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i is also mentioned, with the politician saying the gold had been seized by the CS in his official capacity.
Dr Matiangi, while speaking to the Sunday Nation on Friday, said; “You don’t expect me to respond to whether fraudsters mentioned my name in what is an active investigation.”
Police are looking for a suspect accused of impersonating Dr Matiang’i.
Leaders in the two political camps (Kieleweke and Tanga Tanga) have been trading accusations over the scandal, with those in Tanga Tanga, allied to Deputy President William Ruto challenging Mr Odinga to come clean on the matter.
Speaking at his office at Parliament Buildings, Mr Mbadi warned that the minority MPs in Parliament would oppose the motion, "which is anchored on flimsy grounds if it ever finds itself on the floor of the House. People don’t serve in the Cabinet because one likes them, they serve at the pleasure of the president for the good of the people.
“The issue of gold is being used as an excuse. Since Mr Matiang’i was given added responsibilities the DP has been very unhappy. I have information that two MPs are being used to draft an impeachment motion against Mr Matiang’i,” Mr Mbadi said.
Although Mr Mbadi did not reveal the names of the two MPs, the Nation has established that Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro and his Belgut counterpart Nelson Koech are tasked with collection of signatures.
Mr Nyoro did not confirm or deny the claims, only saying that he had nothing to say, while Mr Koech promised to call but had not done so by press time.
Article 152 (6) of the Constitution provides that a member of the National Assembly, supported by at least a quarter of the members, about 87 of the 349 MPs, may propose a motion requiring the president to dismiss a Cabinet Secretary.
However, in 2015, House Speaker Justin Muturi increased the threshold of removing from office of State officers — the president, his deputy, Cabinet secretaries among others.
Among the requirements the Speaker imposed when he ruled on an attempt by Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter to have then Devolution CS Anne Waiguru removed, was that the mover must state the grounds for removal together with evidence and present to his office for verification.
This was to make the process more serious so as to avoid frivolous motions — that a member would only embark on collecting the signatures after the grounds and evidence have been certified.
The Deputy President, while leading his Tanga Tanga MPs in public rallies and church services in Bungoma County, criticised Mr Odinga and Senator Moses Wetang’ula over the gold scandal.
But Mr Mbadi faulted him and wondered why the MPs were so keen to have Dr Matiang’i out yet the matter was still under investigation by the DCI.
Meanwhile, individuals linked to the gold syndicate in which a royal from the United Arab Emirates was conned of Sh400 million continue to walk free, as the controversy surrounding the matter intensified.
With revelation that the victim of the con game, Mr Ali Zandi, says he will take nothing less than the gold he paid for, there are fears that the situation could result in a diplomatic tiff.
Raised the stakes
Mr Zandi is the nephew of Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emir (ruler) of the UAE. Reports that the Emir had personally sought the intervention of President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga raised the stakes on scandal.
However, despite the president having been made aware of the matter a month ago by a fellow head of a state, Kenyans are yet to see any arrests and prosecution of suspects.
Politician Zaheer Jhanda, who has been identified as having played a key role in the scam, did not present himself to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) as he had promised during a recent interview on NTV.
“Nobody has called me. The DCI has not summoned me.
“I’ve heard my name mentioned and as a law-abiding citizen of this nation, I will go to see the DCI,” he said on Saturday.
“I will present myself and I’m ready to be questioned. I will go myself and talk to them and shed any kind of light they’d want me to shed,” he said.
By Monday he was yet to be summoned as were the rest of the players in the scandal, who have since gone underground.
None of the five other people linked to the scandal has recorded statements.
Meanwhile, it emerged that Mr Jhanda’s wife Alice Moraa could also be called for questioning by the police.
She is listed as a representative of Mr Jhanda in one of the articles of association related to her husband’s company, ZMJ Limited.
The Director of Criminal Investigations, Mr George Kinoti, had yesterday promised to issue a statement on the matter.
Sources from the DCI headquarters told the Nation that Mr Kinoti had been briefed on the key people under investigation and was supposed to sermon them publicly for questioning.