Black September looms as more big fish face arrests

Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe (centre) with former NCPB MD Newton Terer (right) and Chief Accountant Cornel Ngelechey at Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi on Thursday. [David Njaaga, Standard]
Kenyans could this month be treated yet again to a bloodbath as the government reinvigorates the fight on corruption.

The Multi-Agency Team has been in pursuit of top officials implicated in graft at the the National Youth Service, National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC), Kenya Power, Youth Enterprise Development Fund, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).

Reports indicate that some Cabinet Secretaries could be caught in the widening net.

There are indications that the axe will also fall on the Office of the President where some officials, deemed to be untouchable, are expected to resign to pave way for their prosecution.

SEE ALSO :Farmers: Don’t import, we have enough maize

“The President has told his friends and family to prepare to face the law if they are implicated in graft. He said his office will not protect anybody. This month will set the stage for major cases. The real Uhuru will be seen as he confronts corruption. Septemberis the month,” disclosed a source.

On Friday, the President directed investigating agencies not to spare anybody linked to corruption, declaring that he will not be shaken from pursuing the criminals.

“All corrupt individuals will go to jail without compromise. But due process of the law will be followed so that those who think they have been wrongly accused can demonstrate their innocence and be vindicated,” said the Head of State while presiding over the torching of contraband goods worth Sh1.5 billion.

Sources indicate that the Multi-Agency Team (MAT) chaired by Attorney General Kihara Kariuki is under strict instructions from the President to conclude all active corruption cases and ensure suspects are arraigned in court, regardless of their status in government.

The team is now exploring the option of plea bargain to fast-track cases worth Sh10 billion pending before court and fresh ones.

SEE ALSO :Maize task-force recommends privatisation of NCPB

“The public does not appreciate plea bargain. The DPP, EACC and DCI are considering this option as our law is archaic. Our judicial process is slow as manual documents must be presented in their original form. It fatigues witnesses and exposes them to danger as we lack the witness protection law,” said Muthoni Kimani, the director of Asset Recovery at the Attorney General’s office.

A number of former and serving MPs, governors and senior civil servants who have been under surveillance by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) will also be dragged to court for fraud, theft, forgery and land grabbing.

Sting operation

So far, the multi-agency team has destroyed contraband goods worth more than Sh7.4 billion.

Last week, Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti led a sting operation at Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) and carted away crucial documents at the centre of a Sh2 billion scam probe.

SEE ALSO :Sh3.5 billion lost in maize importation

During the raid, Kinoti seized 12 crucial documents, among them those detailing purchase of land next to KPC headquarters, KPC integrated security system involving three companies, new proposed SCADA system, Kisumu Oil jetty, bottom loading facility in Eldoret and valve automation.

KPC is also under probe over the purchase of hydrants and possible theft and advancement of fuel to various firms.

Kenya Pipeline CEO Joe Sang denied the alleged visit by Kinoti. “It’s not true. The director did not visit. There was only one investigator who came and even then, no file was taken from here,” he said.

But sources at DCI say Kinoti visited the facility on Wednesday moments after he, alongside members of the Multi Agency Task force (MAT), had appeared before the Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs of the Senate to give an appraisal of the team’s war on corruption since it was formed.

According to the KPC documents, the taxpayer may have lost up to Sh120 million for the purchase of the two-acre land on Nanyuki Road in Nairobi’s Industrial Area.

Documents show the Ministry of Lands valued the piece at Sh253 million before the National Land Commission (NLC) marked it at Sh545 million. KPC ended up paying up to Sh670 million for the land in a deal that was executed through a broker identified as M/S Leona Properties.

More arrests

Yesterday, EACC said the war on corruption will gather pace soon. “I want to assure Kenyans that they should expect more arrests soon. There are quite a number of files on our desk. There are ongoing investigations which are at an advanced stage,” said EACC Deputy CEO Michael Mubea, who declined to disclose the identity of those under probe.

Mubea, Kinoti, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji and Kimani registered their frustration in convicting corruption suspects, and poked holes in existing laws.

“Corruption happens when people get illegal money or property to influence the outcome of a matter. We are not interested in convictions but to rid the country of graft, to be like Finland where prisons are being closed,” said Mubea.

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NCPBKenya Pipeline CompanyKenya PowerDPPNoordin HajiCorruption