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November 14, 2018

Convict all lords of graft

The presidential pardon for chicken thieves should mark a paradigm shift if it aids the war on corruption. And arbiters 
of justice should stop pampering the politically correct
The presidential pardon for chicken thieves should mark a paradigm shift if it aids the war on corruption. And arbiters of justice should stop pampering the politically correct

The justice system in this country is unfair to chicken and cattle thieves. It allows suspects of economic crimes to get away with impunity but lynches petty criminals.

On October 7, former Eldoret South MP Peris Simam and her husband Enock were found guilty of a Sh4.8 million CDF fraud. They were fined Sh12.2 million or 18 years in jail.

The presidential pardon for “chicken thieves”, during the Mashujaa Day celebrations, should create room for convicts of economic crimes at the Kamiti, Kodiaga, Naivasha, King’ong’o, Manyani, and other maximum security prisons.

The amnesty could mark a paradigm shift if it aids the war on corruption. And arbiters of justice should stop pampering the politically correct. It undermines this fight. The threat to this war is corruption itself.

The presidency, the police, the Attorney General, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, the Judiciary, and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission have all failed to contain economic crimes. The buck-passing during the State House Governance and Anti-Corruption Summit , sent a chilling message to taxpayers who want value for public money.

Muthoni Kimani, the director of Asset Recovery in the office of the Attorney General, said, “There is application upon application ... There is no high-profile Kenyan who has been charged without falling sick.”

Kamlesh Pattni, the architect of the Goldenberg Scandal, fell sick many times as his case fumbled through the courts until 2013, when he was acquitted.

Former Finance minister David Mwiraria, another player in the Anglo Leasing scam, also fell sick last year when his case was due in court. Seemingly, the politically correct always ‘fall sick’ when asked to account for alleged indiscretions in public office.

But the Judiciary is not the only institution undermining the war on corruption. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has been on one certain case for 15 months with nothing to show. Four EACC officers have had to “start this case afresh” each time the progress report is due.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has written to the EACC three times in the past one year asking for the immediate submission of the file. On July 14, 2015, deputy director of forensic investigation at the EACC John Lolkoloi wrote, “The Commission has already received the report from the informant and we have initiated investigation to determine the facts.”

The EACC’s letter, reference number EACC.6/25/1 Vol. V ( 61 ) - 51477, was a reply to the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights, which petitioned the commission to act on the matter. The communication dated June 30, referenced 2015KNCHR/CID/PETGEN/VOL VI/2015, petitioned the EACC to investigate “complaints of alleged questionable expenditure of the CDF in Karachuonyo constituency”.

On December 15, 2015, Lolkoloi directed the senior EACC officer in Kisumu to assign an investigator. The case was later referred to the EACC’s Kisii regional office, which called for the file — Inquiry 2, 2015, Karachuonyo CDF — which was taken to Ammon Oluoch, the DPP officer in Homa Bay county, last November. The DCIO had directed investigation on this matter in July, last year. A constituency lobby sent the petition with facts, figures, and pictures of ghostly project sites.

Anti-corruption agencies are yet to act on the Auditor General’s report, asking for redress for misuse of public funds. The report cites fake supply of telemedicine facilities at a private hospital, fake power connections and frauds at dispensaries. There are also ghost projects in several sites, covering the 2005-06 and 2013-14 financial years. The primary information is posted on the CDF web portal — as the 2010 Constitution requires.

The sampled cases of plunder resulted from an intensive social audit, drawing from official CDF reports posted on the National Constituencies Development Fund (www.cdf.go.ke). After the State House Anti-corruption Summit and presidential amnesty for chicken thieves, the EACC, the DPP, and the Judiciary should demonstrate their resolve to contain graft.

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