DIMMING ALURE OF LOOTING

Just open your eyes, Uhuru's graft war bearing fruits

The main win in the successful prosecution and conviction of these cases and the entire graft war is deterrence

In Summary

• A total of 844 cases have been investigated and concluded since 2015.

• Out of these, 188 cases have been finalised in court, of which 130 (70 per cent) resulted into convictions.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in Mombasa on January 14.
WAR ON GRAFT: President Uhuru Kenyatta in Mombasa on January 14.
Image: PSCU

When President Uhuru Kenyatta relaunched the anti-graft war in 2015, declaring corruption a national security threat, it heralded the start of a new Kenya.

It brought hope that the country was headed for better times ahead. And since then, the President has been at the forefront of the anti-graft war, constantly pushing for investigative and prosecutorial agencies to fast-track corruption cases.

Among his efforts is the formation of the Anti-Corruption Multi-Agency Task  Force. He also declared there will be no state protection for corruption suspects. In the second term, the Executive has demonstrated political will and support to the anti-graft course, including financing agencies in the war on graft with billions of shillings.

This is intended to enable them to effectively pursue graft suspects and recover stolen public assets.  

So, what have been the gains in the fight against corruption?

In the last five years, the Multi-Agency Task Force has successfully investigated and prosecuted hundreds of corruption cases, resulting in convictions, recovery of assets and averting the losses of public funds worth billions of shillings.

These cases involved national and county government officials and touched on varied industries and economic sectors including agriculture, energy, water and sanitation, devolution, health and even the Judiciary.

The the task force is comprised of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the DCI, the Assets and Recovery Agency, the Financial Reporting Centre, CBK, KRA, the Office of the Auditor General and the Director of Public Prosecutions.

A total of 844 cases have been investigated and concluded since 2015.

Out of these, 188 cases have been finalised in court, of which 130 (70 per cent) resulted in convictions. From these cases, assets worth approximately Sh17 billion have been recovered.

 

These properties include Woodley Estates Houses worth Sh1.4 billion, 1,800 acres belonging to Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) in Naivasha worth Sh8.7 billion and Race Course Primary School playground worth Sh700 million.

An additional Sh2.8 billion of assets have also been recovered by the EACC through Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms. This includes the University of Nairobi Land in Kilimani worth Sh2 billion.

Additionally, approximately Sh21.9 billion of taxpayers’ money is reported to have been protected from theft through proactive investigation and disruption of corruption networks.

The corruption cases have impacted not just the so-called small fish but also high-profile personalities, including serving and former governors specifically from Nairobi, Samburu, Busia and Kiambu counties.

Also on this list were three former Principal Secretaries (National Treasury, Agriculture and Youth and Gender), senior officials involved in the Lake Basin Development Authority Mall project, three former managing directors from Kenya Power, the Kenya Pipeline Company and the Kenya National Bureau of Standards; the former chairperson of the National Land Commission and a former Deputy Auditor General.

Convictions have also involved low- and high-profile personalities. Some of the high-profile personalities convicted include former Kenya Re director, who was convicted for fraudulent acquisition of public property; former Kasarani MP John Njoroge convicted of bribery and former Eldoret South MP Peris Simam, convicted of wilful failure to comply with procurement laws in the Eldoret South CDF case.

Others are former Local Government PS Sammy Kirui, convicted of abuse of office in the Nairobi Cemetery land case; former Senator Joy Gwendo, convicted of abuse of office and issuing bad cheques, and most recently the conviction of Sirisia MP John Waluke for fraudulent acquisition of public funds amounting to Sh297 million in the NCPB maize scandal.

These convictions show the war against graft is steadily on course and has not been hampered by the so-called ‘turf wars’ between the graft agencies. Indeed, for there to be successful prosecution of a case, cooperation between the investigative and prosecutorial agencies is necessary.

The DCI and the EACC are the first to investigate a suspected corruption case, then once satisfied, they forward the file to the DPP, who then determines if the case merits prosecution.

The DPP then prosecutes the case and upon successful judgment, the ARA moves in to trace and recover the corruptly acquired assets. The cooperation among the multi-agency institutions has been the cornerstone of the success so far attained in the war against corruption.

Going forward, there are over 389 cases pending in various courts involving losses of taxpayer funds in billions of shillings. The total amounts represented in these cases are estimated to be Sh129.6 billion, money that if recovered, can go a long way in spurring the country's development.

For example, the amount can build four superhighways, six mega dams, 16 teaching and referral hospitals and other worthwhile projects. In the event that the courts uphold the precedent set by the successful Waluke case and order the defendants to pay mandatory fines of as much as five times the sum of the amount of benefit and the amount of loss, potential recoveries will amount to more than Sh700 billion.

The impact of such amounts on the economy will be monumental.

Notwithstanding, the main win in the successful prosecution and conviction of these cases and the entire graft war continues to be deterrence — making corruption costly removes the lure of engaging in it — ultimately saving the economy from rampant looting and the resultant loss in the first place.

John Kiseu is a lecturer at Pwani University