I have lost many friends for fighting graft, reveals Uhuru

From left: President Uhuru Kenyatta, Evangelist Teresia Wairimu, former Othaya MP Mary Wambui, Deputy President William Ruto and nominated MP Cecily Mbarire after attending Sunday service at the Faith Evangelistic Ministry Church in Karen, Nairobi. [DPPS]
President Uhuru Kenyatta says he is ready to lose friends promising to sustain the war on corruption which has in recent weeks seen high-profile Kenyans arrested and charged.

“I have lost close friends over the war on corruption. We must be ready to lose friends and do what is right in the eyes of God,” said the President at the Faith Evangelistic Ministry (FEM) church in Karen, Nairobi.

His comments capped a week when the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji prepared the country for more drama with notes to the Directorate of Criminal Investigation over three matters: the Sh1.5 billion Ruaraka land tussle, pending bills at the ICT ministry and audit queries at the Judiciary.

Last week, Mr Haji directed the DCI to commence a probe on the ICT ministry and the Government Advertising Agency for failing to pay media houses at least Sh2.5 billion in pending bills.

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There are indications that money meant for the advertising space procured in the media was diverted to other uses.

Haji, Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) boss Halakhe Waqo have found a unity of purpose that seems to be delivering.

There is talk of more arrests in the coming weeks.

Haji has also asked DCI and EACC to conduct separate probes on the Judiciary after an internal audit report raised queries.

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“There were fraudulent activities in revenue management which led to the loss of Sh36,000,334,” the DPP said while calling for swift investigation into the matter, after getting the goodwill of Chief Justice David Maraga.

Sources said the latest arrests had caused anxiety among top State officials, who did not know whether the sleuths would come knocking at their doors in the wee hours.

Mr Kinoti has hinted at a major scam at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), saying top managers were on his radar for various financial irregularities, as are the managers of the Thika Technical Training Institute.

Others include the National Cereals and Produce Board, several counties, and possibly MPs accused of taking bribes to shoot down the report on contraband sugar last Thursday.

Among the biggest casualties of the graft purge are the chairman of the National Land Commission, Muhammad Swazuri, Kenya Railways MD Atanas Maina and 15 others who were arrested on Friday and will be arraigned today to anwer graft-related charges.

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On Saturday, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi asked MPs making allegations of bribery to present evidence before the Powers and Privileges Committee for possible onward transmission to EACC.

President Kenyatta’s administration has waged a vigorous fight against corruption in what is defining his second term, with observers saying he is keen on securing his legacy.

The President vowed to continue with the anti-graft crusade as part of his transformation agenda and supported the ongoing demolition of buildings on riparian land.

Last week, several such buildings, including Southend Mall in Lang’ata, Ukay Centre and Visa Oshwal Centre in Westlands, and Java Restaurant and a petrol in Kileleshwa, were knocked down.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has lauded the crackdown and hailed the public support for the campaign.

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“All Government branches, citizens and friends of Kenya must stand to be counted in the war against corruption... the Government of Kenya has mounted a commendable crackdown on corruption and the culture of impunity on which it rides,” said Raila in a statement sent to newsrooms yesterday.

Raila said the crackdown and support by the public were unthinkable at the start of this year “with Kenya torn down the middle by ethnic politics, elections and impunity”.

He attributed the newfound drive against corruption and impunity on the memorandum of understanding in the Building Bridges initiative that he and President Kenyatta signed in March.

Uhuru has also said that State officials who approved the structures on public and riparian land should be held culpable. Among those facing censure are officials from the National Environment Management Authority, the Land Registry and the Physical Planning Department.

Among the high-profile personalities with cases in court are Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’, who was charged with defrauding the county government of Sh8 million.

Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero has also been charged with conspiracy to defraud the Nairobi County of Sh213 million.

Also in court is former Nyandarua governor Daniel Waithaka on charges of flouting procurement laws leading to the loss of Sh50 million.

Kenya Power Managing Director Ken Tarus, his predecessor Ben Chumo, and 17 other officials are also facing graft charges over the procurement of faulty transformers worth millions of shillings.

Kenya Bureau of Standards Managing Director Charles Ongwae and nine other officials have been charged with attempted murder and abuse of office over the importation of sub-standard fertiliser and conspiring to defraud the State of Sh882 million.

Former PS Lilian Omollo, former NYS director Richard Ndubai, Sammy Michuki, and 14 others are in court over abuse of office, conspiracy to commit an offence of economic crime, wilful failure to comply with applicable procedures while managing public funds and fraudulent acquisition of public property.

Observers have noted that Uhuru is now more focused on his legacy because he is not beholden to anybody and that this is characteristic of all rulers who want to be on the good side of history when they leave office.

Constitutional lawyer Bob Mkangi said current events in Uhuru’s administration are also influenced by heritage concerns.

Lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi said Uhuru was riding on the public’s disavowal of corruption.

“In 2013, the country was polarised and he couldn’t do much. But after the handshake, the country is now yearning for action and less politics,” Mr Abdullahi said.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior said the President had proved wrong those who doubted his actions against corruption.

“Most of us have always suspected that he does not support corruption and underhand dealings in the Government. He has expressed his frustrations before,” he said.

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