We are coming for you, EACC tells the corrupt

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) CEO Twalib Mbarak. (Elvis Ogina, Standard)
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has trained its eyes on corrupt public servants and individuals as it seeks to recover billions of shillings worth of illegally acquired assets and fraudulently earned cash.

Between January and March this year, the agency says it recovered billions of shillings worth of what it terms “irregularly acquired assets”.

The agency says it’s training its eyes on some prominent individuals, among them a governor.

“The amount will be more as we finalise active probes. Our officers have made asset recovery through court proceedings and out-of-court settlements. These include cash recovered, land and other immovable properties,” the agency’s Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak told Saturday Standard yesterday.

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Since January, the agency says, some 19 corruptly acquired public assets worth Sh2.7 billion have been recovered. These include a fire station, Administration Police land, Judiciary land, Kenya Ports Authority pension scheme land and cash.

Mbarak also said the institution recovered Sh971,000 cash from two institutions and an individual.

“We are going for more,” Mbarak said. “We plan to lobby for amendment to the laws governing EACC operations to make it easier for us to recover illegally acquired property and cash.”

In Nakuru, the commission recovered public land grabbed by private developers. One parcel of the land had been reserved for Survey Camp Nakuru Municipality.

“This parcel was recovered through a court process where the court gave judgment in favour of the Commission and two properties are valued at Sh42 million.

SEE ALSO : EACC to go for top politicians in Sh2 billion-mall probe

Two parcels of land belonging to Muslim Primary School, Nakuru Municipality Block valued at Sh16 million were also recovered.

Four blocks belonging to the Ministry of Housing in Nakuru Municipality valued at Sh69 million were also recovered. Still within the town, a parcel of land belonging to Postal Corporation of Kenya valued at Sh150 million was recovered in March.

Public service has long been looked at as an avenue to amass wealth with many civil servants dipping their hands into public coffers and making away with tax payers’ money.

On Thursday, EACC detectives raided Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu’s Runda home and ransacked it before driving him to the agency’s headquarters at Integrity Centre for questioning. Other teams conducted simultaneous raids at the county’s finance offices in Thika and Ruiru. 

On Wednesday evening, Murang’a Governor Mwangi wa Iria was also grilled by EACC detectives on suspected corrupt deals in his government. 

SEE ALSO :Leaders want Uhuru to deal more firmly with corruption

On Tuesday, Tharaka Nithi Governor Muthomi Njuki recorded a statement on claims a company associated with him was doing business with the county. 

Convictions

On the same day, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu was at the EACC offices to answer to claims of irregular appointment of one of her county executive committee members.

Two weeks ago, a raid at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) saw dozens of the taxman’s employee’s arraigned in court over a barrage of corruption charges. 

Still within the first three months of the year, EACC recovered 142 acres of land grabbed from the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) in Naivasha valued at Sh490 million.

SEE ALSO :New graft exposé ahead of Uhuru's speech

Mbarak said the Commission recovered two parcels of land meant for County Stadium in Sotik Township, Bomet County, valued at Sh4.4 million and is currently investigating claims of illegal alienation of government land off Bishops Road in Nairobi’s Kilimani belonging to the Kenya School of Law and valued at Sh500 million.

Since January, the commission has managed to secure 19 convictions through prosecution of criminal cases against public officers and private individuals.

They include a Bungoma County Government CEC convicted and fined Sh2 million for making false declaration and two Catholic University students who allegedly tried to bribe their registrar to help them graduate with a law degree.

Mbarak indicated that as at January 2019, the commission has taken to court 328 criminal cases and 380 cases for recovery of assets.

He said there are a number of high voltage cases involving key personalities that are complete and whose files have been handed over to the Director Public Prosecution Noordin Haji for direction. The others are at an advance stage of investigations. 

But even as Mbarak sounded a warning, on Wednesday, the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) released a ‘State of the Nation’ report critiquing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s anti-corruption efforts.

The war against corruption, it said, had been hijacked. Africog says while EACC has been more active since the fight against graft was renewed, it has not demonstrated enough will to fight corruption. 

“Some problems of its ineffectiveness have to do with its own sloppiness: poor investigations, underhand investigatory methods and a penchant for the dramatic gesture,” Africog said in a report dubbed ‘State Capture: Inside Kenya’s inability to fight corruption’.

Political support

It further pointed out the lack of synergy between the commission and the office of the DPP - which has more political support.

“The combination of its own weaknesses and lack of political support means that the EACC is rarely taken seriously,” Africog said, citing the 2017 recommendation that the IEBC bar 106 candidates which was ignored.

EACC has been on the spot for overlooking corruption cases, most of which are raised by the press and the Auditor General’s reports and reported to the body.

 “These (reports) are rarely fully investigated let alone resolved satisfactorily,” says Africog.

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EACCCorruptionTwalib Mbarak