Military, spy agency ignore queries on El Adde attack, refuse to give budget details

A parliamentary committee on Tuesday complained publicly that the military and the National Intelligence Service had refused to give details of their budgets.

The two departments have been allocated Sh124 billion in the next financial year – Sh98.7 billion for the Ministry of Defence, and Sh25.3 billion for the spy agency.

The National Assembly's Defence and Foreign Relations Committee now wants a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta to expose top officials at the two State organs who block the scrutiny of the budget.

At a meeting in Nairobi's County Hall with the Budget and Appropriations Committee, Mr Barre Shill, the vice chair of the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee said MPs were not "rubberstamps" and they had a duty even to check confidential budgets.

Shill appealed to the chairman of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, Mutava Musyimi (Mbeere South MP) to "tell the President" that the committee "was suffering".

"We have been asking for a meeting with the President, but State House will not allow us to sit with the President, yet we are handling a lot of sensitive things, and we really wanted to tell and show him the other side of the coin," said Barre Shill.

Shill said the military and the spy agency usually tell the House committee that their budgets were "confidential" and the lawmakers had to approve the block figures.

"We have difficult times in getting this information, it is one budget line and we are told that this is the way things are. When you push, you become the enemy," said Shill.

He also revealed that when military officials appeared before the committee to explain operational failures that led to the El Adde attack and even the numbers of soldiers who were killed, their questions were ignored.

The Kenya Defence Forces camp in El Adde Somalia was attacked and dozens of soldiers killed in the January 15 attack by al Shabaab militants. There has been speculation that over 100 soldiers died.

"Our soldiers in El Adde were killed. When the committee tried to question those issues, it was very difficult to get an answer. It got to a point where we are being accused to the Head of State that we are the people who want to bring him down. There has been a lot of interference. That is the way things are, and I will say the truth!" said Shill.

Mutava listened to the complaints and promised to pass the message to President Kenyatta for intervention.

"We are Parliament! The Chief of Defence Forces and all his intelligence people come before you, you ask simple questions and they say 'we can't give that number down'. It is very difficult! You are given one kind of thing, and most of the time you are given a lot of excuses, and when you insist, you are accused of being an enemy of the President," Shill complained.

Samuel Gichigi (Kipipiri) said MPs had a duty to check the budgets even the confidential elements.

"If this is what is happening, parliament is not carrying out its oversight role and it is perhaps time that the committee sat and ensured that Kenyan public is getting value for its money or else we are failing in our duty and one day we will regret it!" said Gichigi.

Mutava agreed that confidential elements should be scrutinized in closed-door meetings.