We will rid counties of graft, vows EACC boss

CEO Twalib Mbarak says the agency will not relent in cleaning up the counties and is keeping its eye on the prize

In Summary

•  Six governors have been arraigned on corruption-related charges. 
•  The EACC says it will not be distracted from eradicating the theft of public funds from counties.


DPP Noordin Haji and EACC Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak at the Supreme Court in Nairobi on April 8, 2019.
GRAFT FIGHTERS: DPP Noordin Haji and EACC Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak at the Supreme Court in Nairobi on April 8, 2019.

The anti-graft agency has fired a warning shot at governors that its resolve to rid their counties of wanton graft is unshaken, as the sixth governor goes down on Monday.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission CEO Twalib Mbarak said the agency is keeping its eye on the ball and will not be deflected from its pursuit of county graft barons and their cronies.

“The EACC remains focused and committed to the discharge of its mandate to the people of Kenya,” Mbarak told the Star, reminding officials that county coffers are not their personal cash cows.

In just two weeks, Mbarak and his team have nailed three governors, bringing their political careers to a halt.

On Monday, Garissa Governor Ali Korane will become the sixth county boss to be charged with graft and barred from office.

[Given the anti-graft Mou], it's therefore unfortunate for some governors to still engage in blatant plunder of public resources.
Twalib Mbarak, CEO of anti-graft agency 

Mbarak disclosed that in October last year, the EACC and the Council of Governors agreed on preventing corruption but said some county bosses are part of the  looting.

“The EACC and the Council of Governors signed a Memorandum of Understanding to institutionalise a collaborative framework to support corruption prevention in the counties. Under the framework, governors committed to champion corruption intolerance, fairness and servant leadership,” he told the Star.

“It's therefore unfortunate for some governors to still engage in blatant plunder of public resources.”

Korane will be charged with corruption-related offences after Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji last Thursday approved the charges involving embezzlement of Sh233 million.

This followed investigations by the EACC revealing the grant from the World Bank and meant for urban infrastructural projects was illegally diverted and misappropriated.

Barely a week ago, Tharaka Nithi Ggovernor Muthomi Njoki was arraigned on charges of embezzling Sh34.5 million.

Other governors battling graft charges are Migori’s Okoth Obado, Busia’s Sospeter Ojaamong, Samburu’s Moses Lenolkulal and Nairobi county chief Mike Sonko.

Obado, who is facing a Sh73 million case, is also facing impeachment after his ODM party called for his removal.

Sonko has been charged in a Sh357 million graft case, Lenolkulal is charged with Sh87.6 million fraud while Ojaamong is facing a Sh8 million graft case.

All the six, except Ojaamong, have been barred from setting foot in their offices on the strength of a landmark ruling by High Court judge Mumbi Ngugi.

Ngugi said elected executives cannot continue to attend to office functions when facing corruption-related charges.

“What message does it send to the citizens if their leaders are charged with serious corruption offences and are in office the following day, overseeing the affairs of the institution?” she asked in November 2019.

The county bosses, through their umbrella body, the Council of Governors, have protested the manner in which they are arrested and bundled out of office.

But Mbarak dismissed their protests as dishonest, only meant to distract the agency from charging its mandate of eradicating corruption under their watch.

“The allegations by the governors that they are being disrespected by the EACC during arrests and detention over graft is dishonest and is meant to distract us from discharging our mandate in accordance with the rule of law,” the CEO told the Star.

The Star has established at least eight more governors are on the radar of the EAC, among them Kirinyaga’s Anne Waiguru and Kitui’s Charity Ngilu.

Two former county chief - Evans Kidero (Nairobi) and Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) - are also in court battling graft charges involving hundreds of millions of shillings.

“The extent of theft of public money in counties and other public institutions remains a concern to the EACC and we assure the people of Kenya, and all state and non-state actors, that through concerted efforts by all, together we shall overcome the menace of corruption in our country,” Mbarak said.

(Edited by V. Graham)