EACC arrests county leaders in soft drinks plant while they allegedly solicit Sh1 million bribe

Mombasa County Health Committee chairman Kibwana Swalehe (centre) accompanied by other MCAs, addresses journalists outside the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) offices after they had recorded statements on claims of bribery, October 17, 2016.  (PHOTO: GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD)
The hunter became the hunted yesterday after 10 Mombasa MCAs who were investigating impurities in bottled water were accused of receiving a Sh1 million bribe.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission officers pounced on the 10, who are members of the County Assembly’s Health committee, during a tour of the bottling plant in Mtwapa and allegedly recovered some money from them.

The MCAs, however, denied the accusations, claiming their arrest was a political ploy to intimidate them.Ten MCAs from the Mombasa County Assembly yesterday found themselves on the receiving end over claims of bribery.

The MCAs on an inspection tour of a water bottling company in Kilifi came face-to-face with sleuths from the anti-corruption agency, who had been tipped on a bribery claim at the factory.

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The assembly's Health Committee members were said to have received a Sh1 million bribe from the company, money meant to influence their findings in an investigation where the company's bottled water allegedly had impurities.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) officers claimed the MCAs had received a bribe from an officer at the plant.

The MCAs, however, disputed the claim and said someone was attempting to intimidate them while investigating the source of the alleged impurities in bottled water.

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The 10 MCAs left the assembly in a bus with technical county staff intending to seek answers but as they began to tour the plant, they were confronted by EACC officers who subjected them to a body search. A bitter exchange followed but the EACC officers appeared firm.

Led by committee chairman Kibwana Swaleh Baya (Miritini), the leaders were later summoned to the EACC offices where they recorded statements over the matter.

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EACC officers said on searching the MCAs, they retrieved Sh115,000 but could not immediately link it to bribery but investigations were ongoing.

AFFECTED MEMBERS

Simon Cherpka, EACC acting deputy director for the lower Coast region, said members and other parties had recorded statements but declined to give more information.

"We received information on bribery and acted very fast. The allegations touched on the Mombasa County Assembly committee members. They have recorded statements, which we feel are important in our investigation," said Mr Cherpka.

He said all the affected MCAs had honoured the summons and that more people were set to appear before them.

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"We are objective in our work. We are not political when carrying out our mandate," said Cherpka.

Addressing the Press outside the EACC offices, Mr Baya claimed EACC had acted in a political manner, but vowed that the committee would continue with the investigation into the alleged impurities recently found in mineral water bottles.

He said they had been blocked from touring the bottling plant.

"We were confronted with the claims that we had received a Sh1 million bribe. The EACC took our personal money that was far less than what they had claimed. This move is political and meant to intimidate us but we will continue to discharge our mandate without fear," said Kibwana.

The committee had summoned managers of the bottling company before fixing a date to tour the plant in Mtwapa, and wondered why the tour was disrupted.

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EACCbriberycorruptionMombasa County Assembly