If you have evidence I've stolen, go to DCI, Uhuru tells leaders

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Mze Mugo Karuga who worked for Mzee Jomo Kenyatta in the early 70's. The President later opened the Sixth Devolution Conference at Kirinyaga University grounds on March 5, 2019. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta was yesterday furious with what he termed attempts to link him to corruption.

Uhuru, who spoke while opening the Sixth Annual Devolution Conference at Kirinyaga University, accused individuals he did not name of using funerals and weddings to make reckless remarks with a view of slowing down the war on corruption.

"When you take the podium at a funeral and make false pronouncements like those made against me recently, how does it help you? I wonder if the dead person will rise up and help you," said Uhuru. 

"I want to say here, I have never stolen. But if you have evidence against me, walk in to Karura Forest, the offices of those tasked to investigate crime, including corruption, are there. Go there and make an official report," he said in reference to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, which is headquartered on Kiambu Road.

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On Sunday, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, an ally of Deputy President William Ruto, said Uhuru and Opposition leader Raila Odinga were pretending to be "holy" in the fight against corruption.

Mr Sudi claimed the two had a hand in the controversial takeover of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by the Kenya Airways.

The MP, who spoke on Sunday at Kipkenyo in Eldoret, had accused Uhuru of using the handshake and the war on graft to extend his tenure in 2022.

He claimed the March 9, 2018 handshake between the President and the ODM leader was specifically intended to fix 2022 politics.

"I want to tell Raila we accepted the handshake, but now we know what it meant. Uhuru should tell us what he is scheming with Raila. If he doesn't want to go home in 2022, let him tell us," Sudi told a meeting also attended by Ruto's aide Farouk Kibet and Governor Jackson Mandago.

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In Kirinyaga, Uhuru called on Kenyans to allow investigative agencies to probe corruption and stop engaging in character assassination.

The President claimed there was an attempt to stifle the war against corruption by making allegations against innocent people. 

Uhuru, who was accompanied by Dr Ruto, said the war against the vice was unstoppable, insisting that no one would be spared.

"We will not be blackmailed. I have confidence in the ability of our investigative agencies to complete this task and punish corruption," said Uhuru.

He said the fight against graft did not target some communities or individuals.

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Corruption is the biggest threat to national assets and shared prosperity of Kenyans, said the President.

"The hour has come for us to raise the bar in delivering services to our people. We must also endeavour to be accountable to Kenyans," said Uhuru.

He added: "It is unfortunate that while we are working hard to grow revenues and develop the country, others are busy dipping their hands in the national basket. However, we are determined to slay the dragon of impunity and Kenyans should expect more from us."

He said the Government would also seek to recover stolen assets while taking over property bought with proceeds of corruption.

Uhuru called on the Judiciary to help the course by speeding corruption cases. "I urge all Kenyans not to put obstacles and support the war against graft."

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Ruto, who invited the President to address the governors and other delegates, did not talk about the war on corruption. The DP will close conference on Friday.

Uhuru and other speakers who addressed the conference yesterday, including Council of Governors chairman Wycliffe Oparanya, said lords of corruption should not be shown mercy.

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa said: "The Bible teaches that you should get rid of the finger that causes you to sin. That is why I'm telling the President to go ahead and cut off that finger."

Only Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen criticised the ongoing war against corruption when he addressed an earlier session (see separate story).

Meanwhile, Uhuru said he wanted the governors' conference to address the mismatch between resources and demand for development.

He said the governors had acknowledged the challenge when he met them at the Sagana River State Lodge.

The President said only Sh50 billion was available annually for development even though Kenya had a Sh2 trillion budget.

"The challenge of minimal resources is both a national and county government problem," said the President.

"Almost 52 per cent of our ordinary budget was consumed by salaries while 30 per cent went to recurrent expenditure, leaving less than 20 per cent or Sh50 billion that is not enough for us," said Uhuru.

He noted that in one of the counties, at least Sh6 billion of the Sh9 billion budget had been allocated to salaries of 6,000 workers and the rest to development. "We have heard of another county that used Sh600 million to oversight a Sh800 development budget," said Uhuru.

Ruto said although everyone was in agreement about what needed to be done, the problem was where to get the resources from.

"What we need from this conference are suggestions on how to bake a bigger cake," said Ruto, who suggested that counties consider generating more resources by expanding agricultural exports.

Uhuru said an increase in earnings for coffee farmers in Kirinyaga and the Makueni mango factory that had given a lifeline to many farmers was testimony enough that devolution was working.

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CorruptionRutoKapseret MP Oscar SudiDeputy President William RutoUhuruRaila Odinga