Slaughter EACC’s sacred cows

By Oketch Kendo

The pending transition at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission was overdue. It should have happened in 2015. The transition raises questions about EACC’s indecisive fight against corruption.

In 2015, the President suspended four Cabinet Secretaries, and other State officers, on account of raw data from the EACC secretariat. Then Lands CS Charity Ngilu, Agriculture CS Felix Koskei, Roads Michael Kamau, Kazungu Kambi, Labour, and Davis Chirchir, Energy, were suspended.

EACC presented the allegations to State House as actionable intelligence. But none of the suspects has been successfully prosecuted. EACC Chief Executive Officer, Halake Waqo, leaves a legacy of misleading the President.

Waqo presided over an institution that shields prized corruption suspects. This claim rides on reported cases of corruption, involving millions of shillings. EACC is reluctant to investigate and prosecute the suspects.

Giving whistleblowers 10% of recovered assets, as proposed, won’t work unless EACC is reconstituted to protect public interest. It is not for lack of information that EACC is luckluster. It’s compromise that undermines accountability.

The current presidential leadership of the fight against corruption should have started in 2015 or earlier. The Presidency trusted the leadership of EACC, but executive top-dogs at Integrity Centre squandered the goodwill.

A succession of chairmen left in dubious, scandalous circumstances. The message was that EACC has its ‘owners’. Zealous outsiders are not allowed to mess up show. They ejected Mumo Matemo as EACC chairman before he could understand the system of protecting suspects.

The owners of EACC alleged incompetence before they ejected Matemo. He took up the position in 2013. Matemo succeeded lawyer PLO Lumumba. The lawyer from academia and the Bar could not handle vested interests at Integrity Centre. Nothing had prepared him for intrigues that fertilize sleaze.

By publicly speaking about ten or so files of high octane corruption EACC was handling, PLO had rattled lootocrats. Protectors of tumbocrats could not allow Lumumba to prosecute their geese. They orchestrate his exit.

EACC chairman Philip Kinisu faced the same fate as Matemo and Lumumba. The owners of EACC ensnared the board into compromising situations, then set public opinion against them. It works for ‘networked’ insiders, who protect vested interests.

EACC chairman Eliud Wabukala, a former head of the Anglican Church of Kenya, survives because he is a career outsider. He is too gentle, and humble, to confront vested interests. His advice is not considered in the system of protection.

A case of the plunder of millions of shillings in NG-CDF allocation in a constituency in western Kenya confirms this. EACC chairman asked the Kisii regional office to conclude investigations of fraud, which was first reported in 2015, with incontrovertible evidence of raw theft.

Files, which include photographic evidence, substantiating claims in which the public lost millions of shillings were presented to EACC. Action did not come in two weeks as promised in May 2017. It has not come in four years.

The Director of Public Prosecutions has referred this matter to EACC tens times in four years. ‘Owners’ of EACC love management by witch-hunt. Kisii regional office is reconstituted, and files shelved when investigators are on the trail of ‘sacred cows’.

There are also reports of massive corruption at the Homa Bay County executive, which EACC glosses over. County offices have been burnt, files and computers stolen to coverup plunder.

These took place under Waqo’s watch. If he did not know, then he wasn’t in charge. If he knew, and did nothing, then he was complicit.

Waqo’s exit is an opportunity for audit of EACC’s performance, especially pending cases of mega-corruption involving sacred cows of the counties. The transition offers an opportunity to interrogate the claim EACC protects some corruption suspects in public finance, procurement, and audit offices in Nairobi and in some counties.

This patronized network rides on cronyism. It has a link to alumni of Indian universities of the 1980s. They hold strategic positions in public finance, procurement, and audit. EACC is yet to know what the public knows.

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