• At a time when EACC is enjoying the most success, the writer elects to ignore the gains and makes accusations regarding the institution’s capacity to fight corruption.
• For the avoidance of doubt, EACC has in the past two years under the stewardship of CEO Twalib Mbarak finalised investigation of 402 corruption and economic crime cases
In what appears to be a targeted and sponsored article published by the Star on Monday, the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission is once again under attack for apparently being solely responsible for failing to combat corruption in Kenya.
Under the headline “Kenyans should not expect much from EACC” the writer [Morris Odhiambo] exhibits a worrying misunderstanding of EACC’s mandate and ignorance of the criminal justice process.
It is incredible that a person bearing the title of president of the National Civil Society Congress can regurgitate so many tired clichés without providing context or supporting his assertions with facts.
Worse still, he did not seek data from EACC notwithstanding that such information is readily available to the public. At a time when EACC is enjoying the most success in the history of its existence, the writer elects to ignore the gains and makes sweeping accusations regarding the institution’s capacity to fight corruption.
For the avoidance of doubt, EACC has in the past two years under the stewardship of CEO Twalib Mbarak finalised investigation of 402 corruption and economic crime cases and submitted its recommendations to the Director of Public Prosecution for action.
The cases finalised include an investigation into allegations of embezzlement at Kemsa, which was alluded to by Odhiambo among other high public interest cases. The recent high-profile conviction of a sitting MP last year also deserves mention.
In addition to law enforcement, EACC has recovered corruptly acquired assets worth approximately Sh16.3 billion in the last two years through civil litigation and the use of alternative dispute resolution.
Some of the assets recovered include a parcel of land belonging to the University of Nairobi valued at Sh2 billion as well as a prime property belonging to Meteorological Department situated in Industrial Area Nairobi worth Sh5 billion.
Worth noting is the critical role played by the ODPP in reviewing EACC files before deciding whether to charge corrupt individuals.
Odhiambo would have done well to note the 95 per cent concurrence rate between EACC and the DPP and the subsequent 63 per cent conviction rate once suspects are arraigned in court.
This delineation of investigative and prosecution roles ensures objectivity and is consistent with rules of justice when a suspect is arraigned by a person different from the one who investigated the case.
Odhiambo omitted to tell Kenyans which corruption cases investigated by EACC failed to meet the evidentiary threshold and were subsequently not prosecutable.
This brings us to the role of the Judiciary in determining corruption cases and the nature of sentences being passed. The courts are doing a commendable job and we are pleased by the recent imposition of mandatory custodial sentences, which was rare in previous years.
We should all strive to look forward in identifying what needs to be done to intensify the war against graft. The Collective Action Theory envisages the Public Sector, Private Sector and Civil Society making a concerted effort to bring about reforms that would help defeat corruption. This entails civil society making the right noises and deploying their considerable donor funding to sponsor initiatives such as legislative reform.
The media, on the other hand, is a key partner in highlighting issues of corruption. However, the constant publication of negative stories leads to a phenomenon known as “banalization” of corruption where unethical conduct becomes normalised. In turn, Kenyans begin to lose faith in the ability of institutions such as the EACC to discharge their mandates in combatting corruption.
EACC appreciates constructive criticism and will continue to confront the vice notwithstanding obvious attempts to derail and diminish its achievements. The converse does not bear contemplation.
Phillip Kagucia is an advocate and EACC head of Corporate Communications