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Ringera puts a price to his exit

By | September 29th 2009 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Standard Team

Justice Aaron Ringera could throw in the towel as early as on Wednesday.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission Director is believed to have a date on Tuesday with President Kibaki, who reappointed him to a second five-year term, to discuss his options.

His departure would, however, cost taxpayers a cool Sh150 million — the amount he would have earned were he to serve the full term.

A clause in his contract requires that he be paid for its entire period should it be terminated for any reason other than his own volition.

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Sources privy to negotiations on his exit from the anti-graft body say Justice Ringera may be headed back to the Judiciary where he would take up a job in the Court of Appeal.

"There has been lobbying to have Ringera in the Judiciary with his package from KACC, but the stumbling block has been that he would earn more than the Chief Justice Evan Gicheru," the source said.

One set of succession planners have been lobbying Deputy Director Fatuma Sichale to stay put until a fresh team is appointed to take over.

The source said important and sensitive files, which have been under investigation by both Sichale and Ringera were being held confidentially before they are handed over.

"In the event that both Ringera and Sichale refuse to stay on for a few more days to allow smooth succession and handing over, Dr John Mutonyi who is the assistant director in charge investigations and asset recovery, is expected to take over in acting capacity," we were told.

KACC was last night in a dilemma on what would happen to highly sensitive files in the event that both Ringera and Sichale quit since these are only entrusted with the director and his deputy.

The source, who is privy to the goings on, said Ringera and Sichale had packed most of their personal belongings at the weekend and the staff attached to them redeployed in a move that was read to set the stage for the exit.

It is believed the urgency of resolving this matter, which has drawn unparalled international interest, was given momentum by reports that Garsen MP Danson Mungatana was publishing a proposed Bill seeking to have KACC disbanded altogether.

Ringera, whose reappointment was made without resort to Parliament and KACC’s Advisory Board, was last evening said to be readying for a meeting with President Kibaki on Monday.

Justice Aaron Ringera

Three weeks ago Parliament declared Kibaki’s action illegal and voted to have the Gazette notice reappointing Ringera, Sichale and Dr Smokin Wanjala annulled, putting the President in an awkward situation.

Wanjala, opted to quit his position as the storm raged, to protect his professional standing. It was not clear what Sichale, with whom he was reappointed was planning to do.

Some sources privy to KACC’s internal operations claimed the man, who vowed not leave last week because he had a valid letter of reappointment from Kibaki, began clearing his personal effects at Integrity Centre on Saturday.

Last week Ringera met the board that has been hostile to his return and it emerged he would be making a "major announcement" on Wednesday.

Kibaki broke the law

This has fired up speculation he could have opted, in consultations with the President, to quit his post, but not before invoking a clause in his contract from 2003 when he was first contracted after being headhunted.

The board has insisted that the President broke the law by ignoring its mandate and vowed to advertise the three positions and make its recommendations to Parliament. The board hit a brick wall last week when Ringera reportedly told them he would not release any money to advertise for positions he said were not vacant.

It was also widely speculated Kibaki could ‘reward’ Ringera by taking him back to the Court of Appeal — where he used to serve before.

This perception Ringera and Kibaki have found a way of averting the humiliation of Parliament disbanding KACC altogether was reinforced by the embattled director’s meeting with Justice Evan Gicheru last week.

When asked what the meeting was about, the CJ said Ringera was not a member of the Judiciary and could speak for himself.

President Kibaki re-appointed Ringera as the Director of KACC in August, 31, 2009 to serve for a period of five years with effect from September 8. Also reappointed were Sichale, the Assistant Director Legal Services and Wanjala, the Assistant Director Preventive Services.

Dr Wanjala resigned a resign on September 18 as the KACC Advisory Board fine-tuned plans to advertise vacancies for the three directors. A week later Ringera in Mombasa put on a brave face, telling the journalists he "had nothing to say in the face of pressure for him to quit".

He termed the hue and cry over his re-appointment as a "big" circus. The KACC Advisory Board, led by Law Society of Kenya Chairman Okong’o Omogeni, said the embattled judge was free to re-apply for the job when advertised. Omogeni, however, said the new KACC directors would take a 35 per cent pay cut.

Two cases had been pending in court, one filed by Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale challenging Ringera’s reappointment but he has since withdrawn it.

One more case filed by a civil society lobby fronted by Mr Okoiti Omtatah is still pending.

Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo and Attorney General Amos Wako have insisted that Parliament’s position that the President acted beyond his powers was only an opinion and that the courts would have the final word on the matter.

Ringera succeeded John Harun Mwau as the director of Kenya Anti Corruption Authority, the precursor to KACC in March 1999.

He stayed on until December 22, 2000, when the High Court disbanded KACA. In April 2003, the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, No 3 of 2003 saw establishment of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) as a body corporate.

Ringera stepped in as its head on the 10th September, 2004.

Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission Kacc Justice Aaron Ringera Dr John Mutonyi Fatuma Sichale
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