WAR ON GRAFT

MAKODINGO: New strategic focus bears fruits in war against corruption

Voters should elect leaders who live up to the values in Chapter 6 of the Constitution.

In Summary
  • A number of these high-profile cases have successfully been prosecuted with significant monetary consequences.
  • Examples include former Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario over the Rio Olympics scandal.
EACC offices at Integrity Centre.
EACC offices at Integrity Centre.
Image: FILE

For the first time ever, Kenya has scored over 30 points (31 points in 2020) in the Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International from the previous high of 28, moving thirteen places from the 137th most corrupt nation to 124th. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) attributes this to political goodwill from President Uhuru Kenyatta, increased budgetary support to the agency and improved technical training to its staff and the collaboration through the Multi-Agency Team set up by the President.

Through a strategic plan covering the year 2018-2023, the Commission has made tremendous strides focussing on high impact investigations, asset tracing and recoveries, prevention, public awareness and education, and partnership approaches using strategic linkages that facilitate sharing of information and best practices. EACC has focused on curbing graft cases and winning the race through partnerships and multi-agency frameworks that provide platforms for collaborations and faster investigation and prosecution of cases through sharing of intelligence information.

This strategic approach has shown significant progress and results. In the EACC Annual Report for the Financial Year 2019/2020 showed significant milestones. The Commission recovered corruptly acquired public assets worth approximately Kshs. 12.1billion, received preservation orders for 14 assets worth over 9.4 billion shillings; traced and recovered eighty-eight (88) illegally assets illegally acquired through proceeds of crimes estimated to be worth over 25.3 billion shillings and through 31 proactive covert investigations and disruption of corruption networks, averted possible loss of public funds estimated at over 10 billion shillings.

Some of these properties recovered include land belonging to the Kenya Meteorological Department worth 5 Billion shillings; 1800 acres of land in Naivasha belonging to Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organisation worth 8.7 Billion shillings; a five-acre piece of land in Kilimani Nairobi belonging to the University of Nairobi worth 2 Billion shillings; Woodley/Joseph Kangethe Estate Houses belonging to Nairobi County worth 1.4 Billion shillings; Race Course Primary School playground worth 700 Million shillings and Kenya Railways Corporation property in Kisumu worth 150 Million shillings. In addition, the Commission won recovery several recovery suits including  KES 701,469,156 Million fine on a businessman over Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) fraud; 75 Million shillings from a former Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Managing Director; 55 Million shillings from Tornado Carriers Ltd (on behalf of Kenya National Highways Authority); 28 Million shillings former officials of the defunct Makuyu County Council officials and 20 Million shillings from Kizito Chesesios and others belonging to former Eldoret South Constituency.

The Commission is also seeking forfeiture of assets found to be disproportionate to the legitimately known sources of income from various former public officers. These include 952 million-shillings worth of assets belonging to former KeRRA Coast Regional Manager Benson Muteti Masila, more than 50.6 Million wealth belonging to a former National Treasury Civil Servant; 74.3 million from former Kenya Ports Authority MD; 41.2 million belonging to former National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corporation Finance Manager; 317 million from a former Nairobi County Chief Officer Finance; 112 million from former Senior Assistant Accountant General at State Department of Interior and Coordination of National Government and 18 million shillings from a former Valuer at the National Lands Commission.

Furthermore, the Commission investigated a total of 163 high impact corruption and economic crimes and ethical breaches, which were concluded and files forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for prosecution, a number of which have already been prosecuted with some others awaiting arraignment before the courts.  

High profile personalities charged with suspected corruption include; County Governors for Samburu- Moses Lenolkulal, Busia -Sospeter Ojaamong, Tharaka Nithi-Muthomi Njuki, Nairobi -Mike Sonko, Nairobi -Evans Kidero, Kiambu- Ferdinand Waititu. Others include National Treasury CS Henry Rotich over the Arror and Kimwarer Dams scandal; Ministry of Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga; Youth and Gender PS Lilian Omollo; Several former Parastatal Chiefs including those of Lake Basin Development Authority Mall project, Kenya Power & Lighting Company, Kenya Pipeline Company; Former Chairman of the National Land Commission Mohamed Swazuri and  Stephen Kinuthia from the Office of Auditor General and Sirisia Constituency Member of Parliament John Waluke who is out of jail awaiting the appeal of his conviction.

A number of these high-profile cases have successfully been prosecuted with significant monetary consequences. Examples include former Sports Cabinet Secretary Hassan Wario over the Rio Olympics scandal; Sirisia Member of Parliament John Waluke over fraudulent acquisition of 297million shillings in the maize scandal; former Kenya Re-Insurance Managing Director Johnson Githaka; former MPs for Kasarani and Eldoret South Constituency; a former nominated Senator and former Permanent Secretaries for Local Government and Tourism and Wildlife for various corruption related offences.

Even though it has always been labelled as the weakest link in the War on Graft, the Judiciary has produced some very good jurisprudence in dealing with corruption. The most famous of these was the landmark ruling by then High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi on the need for graft-tainted State Officers to be barred from office until their cases are heard and determined with the most notable victims being Samburu Governor Lenonkulal and former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.

EACC expedited investigations into allegations of unethical conduct, corruption and economic crimes using the Multi-Agency approach despite challenges like glorification of corrupt and unethical leaders, destruction of evidence by criminal cartels and a weak legal framework. On the weak legal regime, EACC has made significant progress by working with Parliament. The recent amendment to the Proceeds of Crimes and Anti-Money Laundering Act will make it more difficult for lawyers and accountants to hide ill-gotten wealth and make it easier for the Financial Reporting Centre to query suspicious accounts by giving it the power to freeze such accounts for five days without a warrant as they investigate.

As we head to the General Elections, voters should elect leaders who live up to the values in Chapter 6 of the Constitution, keeping in mind that the decision to have a dedicated Chapter on leadership and integrity was made out of our aspirations for a progressive, transformative and responsive leadership in management of their affairs.