EACC to oppose governors’ call for immunity over graft

Wednesday, November 18th, 2020 00:00 |
EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak. Photo/PD/Gerald Ithana

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) yesterday vowed to thwart a controversial proposal by governors to change the law to cushion them against corruption charges.

EACC Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak insisted that the anti-graft body would fight the governors’ proposal to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to consider a law protecting them from prosecution over collective criminal responsibility, opening a fresh war with county chiefs who have been uncomfortable with his pursuit for corrupt governors.

“That governors are seeking to cushion themselves from prosecution over corruption allegations at the county level through removal of collective criminal responsibility is something that we are not going to allow to happen,” Mbarak told People Daily.

Governors, in their recommendations to the BBI steering committee said the principle of personal criminal culpability should take precedence.

Cannot be insulated

Mbarak however maintains that governors cannot be insulated from culpability because several investigations have revealed a pattern where governors used junior officers to perpetrate corruption.

The county chiefs, he said, are known to intimidate procurement and finance officers to award and pay tenders to their cronies from who they directly benefit and therefore the removal of collective criminal responsibility would enable the county chiefs to engage in graft and get away with it.

“The Commission’s experience in conducting investigations has demonstrated the modus operandi of several governors to conceal their role when engaging in corrupt conduct.

This includes issuing verbal instructions to junior employees, intimidation and eventually receiving benefits through proxies,” the EACC boss said.

Some governors have been accused of denying departments; mostly finance and procurement independence by dictating to them what to be done, some of which instructions have landed the officers in trouble with the law.

Governors facing graft-related cases in court are: Tharaka Nithi’s Muthomi Njuki, Okoth Obado (Migori), Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Garrisa’s Ali Korane and Busia’s Sospeter Ojaamong.

Other than Ojaamong, other governors have been barred from accessing offices until their cases are heard and determined.

In most of the cases, governors have been charged alongside their relatives, including wives and children who were awarded tenders as well as procurement and finance officials who were directed to award the tenders to relatives and make prompt payment.

Corruption claims

Senators who are mandated to oversight county expenditure have also rejected the proposal which has been interpreted as a well-calculated plot by the county chiefs to secure immunity in the war against graft, saying it is a plot to escape liability for the wrongs which they also supervise.

The governors in their proposals read by their council chair Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and which have raised eyebrows, moved to cushion themselves from prosecution over corruption allegations at the county level, saying that collective criminal responsibility should be removed.

“You cannot be punished for a mistake committed by somebody else,” Oparanya said.

But the EACC boss said corruption is a white-collar crime committed by government and business professionals, and is well planned, executed and characterised by deceit and concealment to ensure their tracks are not traced. 

Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru said governors who are chief executives in the devolved governments must take responsibility for the financial operations in the counties.

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