Integrity crisis as 25 legislators fight incitement, fraud charges

Monday, September 30th, 2019 15:30 |
Justice. Photo/Courtesy

At least 25 legislators are facing fraud, forgery, assault and incitement-related charges, which put their conduct on collision with Chapter Six of the Constitution. 

The chapter demands of State officers to conduct themselves with integrity.

Questions have been raised whether the July 24 ruling by Justice Mumbi Ngugi should apply to MPs, who according to Article 260 of the Constitution are State officers.

The ruling requires officials to vacate office for the duration of their trial, if they are charged with economic crimes.

Senate Committee on Public Accounts and Investment chairman Moses Kajwang’ has called on Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka and his National Assembly counterpart Justin Muturi to interpret the ramifications of Justice Ngugi’s ruling on MPs.

“The ruling has already disciplined governors but it’s unclear on how to deal with other State officers, including MPs and MCAs.

What will happen to our colleagues, does it mean they should step aside if they are chairs and vice-chairs of a parliamentary committee or what will happen? Should they stop chairing those committees,” he asked.

The latest to join the growing list of MPs whose alleged conduct is demeaning to Parliament, whose core mandate is to enact laws, is Bobasi lawmaker Innocent Momanyi. 

Alongside Kisumu Assembly Speaker Onyango Oloo, the MP is facing charges of corruption related to the Sh4 billion Lake Basin mall in Kisumu.

The MP, who is the proprietor of Quantech Consultancy, is accused of fiddling with the numbers to increase the mall’s construction cost from Sh2.5 billion to Sh4.1 billion.

Momanyi is also facing another criminal case. In May 2018, he was charged in a Kisii court with incitement and damage to property at a quarry.

Political solution

The lawmaker was charged that on May 6, 2018  in Sameta sub-county in Kisii county, without authority, he entered County 45 Investment Limited quarry and blocked the entrance, thereby creating a disturbance.

Human rights lawyer Harun Ndubi says that while the law may be silent on how to deal with MPs facing criminal charges, and also considering the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise, the country requires a political solution to handle MPs who bring dishonour to the House. 

“MPs ought to be people of honour and integrity but unfortunately Parliament is full of dishonourable members and we need to find a political solution.

We need to have the Standing Orders amended so that when a member is charged with criminal activities, the Speaker can pronounce him or her on the matter as per the House regulations,” the lawyer told People Daily.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Spokesperson Yassin Amaro told People Daily that any State officer, whether governor, senator, MPs or MCA facing charges related to economic crimes must step aside pending the determination of their cases.

Nakuru County tops with the number of MPs facing integrity issues, with Samuel Arama (Nakuru Town West), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati) and David Gikaria (Nakuru Town East) fighting to clear their names over fraud and assault charges.

Arama was in May charged before chief magistrate Douglas Ogoti in Nairobi over allegations of fraudulent acquisition of land belonging to Ahmed Muhammad Nisar through forgeries committed between August 3, 2015, and August 11, 2015.

Gikaria was four months ago also charged with land fraud. He is accused of conspiring to commit fraud by manipulating date entries on different green cards for parcels of land in Nakuru on diverse dates between August 28, 2007 and December 18 of the same year.

Tax evasion

On January 28, the MP was arrested in another case of land fraud near Pipeline where he has constructed a palatial home. The case is still pending.

In 2013, Ngunjiri denied five counts of assaulting Inspector Maria Mutheu in Nakuru and defying lawful orders.

Two months ago, Lamu West MP Stanley Muthama was charged in a court in Eldoret with failing to remit Sh487 million in taxes between 2013 and 2017 from businesses operated under Stansha Limited which is linked to him.

Nyakach MP Aduma Owuor was in July 12 charged that, as the director, legal affairs at the Nairobi City County, he defrauded the city of Sh10 million through fraudulent payment of the said amount to Stephen Mburu (deceased) trading as Wachira, Mburu, Mwangi and Company Advocates.

The alleged fraud is said to have happened when Evans Kidero was the Nairobi governor.

In February, Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter denied presenting forged Treasury Bills amounting to Sh634 million to the Central Bank of Kenya seeking payment. 

He was charged before Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi together with directors of Desai Industries Limited Arthur Ingolo Sakwa and Madat Suburali Chatur with 11 counts related to conspiracy to defraud the Central Bank of Kenya, making a false document and forgery.

In May 2015, Keter and former nominated MP Birdi Sonia were charged for allegedly creating a disturbance, incitement and using the name of the President to invoke fear during an altercation at the Naivasha weighbridge

In October last year, Lugari MP Ayub Savula and his two wives, Gatwiri Ringera and Hellen Kemboi, were charged with stealing Sh122.3 million from Government Advertising Agency (GAA) in a fraud reported to have been executed through his Sunday Publishers Limited.

His Kibwezi West counterpart Patrick Musimba, and wife Angela Mwende, were in September last year charged with stealing over Sh1.15 billion from collapsed Chase Bank on diverse dates between January 2015 and March 2016.

The two, who were freed on a Sh5 million cash bail, also face money laundering charges for allegedly benefiting from the transfer of Sh740.4 million from Chase Bank to Paramount Universal Bank and another Sh409. 6 million to Kenya Commercial Bank.

Sirisia MP John Waluke is also fighting to clear his name in court after he was charged alongside businesswoman Grace Wakhungu  with defrauding the government in a dubious maize supply tender.

The two, who are directors of Erad Suppliers and General Contractors Ltd, and who the court in May ruled they have a case to answer, are accused of receiving millions from the National Cereals and Produce Board after falsifying documents.

Embakasi North MP James Gakuya and eight Constituency Development Fund (CDF) officials are facing charges of mismanagement and embezzlement of Sh39.8 million from the CDF kitty

His Kapseret counterpart Oscar Sudi is fighting charges of forging his diploma in business management allegedly issued by the Kenya Institute of Management and a Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education qualification reportedly issued by Highway High School.

Bobby Mkangi, a constitution law expert, said though not all cases can be subjected to Justice Ngugi’s ruling since they are not directly related to the suspects’ official duties, the charges raise integrity issues since MPs are required to conduct themselves in a manner that is beyond reproach.

However, Mkangi said society is to blame for the caliber of some of the leaders they elect, saying Kenyans should evaluate the integrity of candidates to ensure they pick people who are morally upright.

“It doesn’t augur well for wananchi that many of their representatives are facing criminal charges but it’s also a reflection of society because we are the ones who elect them. It is something Kenyans should reflect upon,” Mkangi told People Daily.

Legislators charged with incitement are Senators Samson Cherargei (Nandi); Fred Outa (Kisumu); MPs Moses Kuria (Gatundu South); Babu Owino (Embakasi East), who is also facing assault charges; Charles Njagua (Starehe); Gorge Aladwa (Makadara); Chachu Ganya (North Horr); Ali Rasso (Saku); and, Mwingi Central MP Gideon Mulyungi, who has been charged with hate speech.

Wajir East MP Rashid Kassim Amin has also been charged with assaulting Wajir Woman Rep Fatuma Gedi.

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