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KACC goes for big shots in war on vice

BUSINESS
By | February 5th 2010

By Wahome Thuku

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) has gone overdrive in graft fight.

After former director Aaron Ringera’s resignation on October 1 last year, now under acting director John Mutonyi, is now hunting big shots and taking them to court over criminal charges that were pending for years.

Since December last year, big names have been arraigned in courts to the surprise of many.

The two corruption court magistrates at the Nairobi Law Courts Lucy Nyambura and Cecilia Githua now have their hands full.

Some of the alleged offences date as far back as 1996. The last such enthusiasm to fight graft was seen in 2003 when Narc came to power with an ambition to eliminate the vice.

For the second time in Kenya’s history, a sitting judge was last December arraigned in court facing more than Sh1.2 billion corruption charges.

Justice Said Juma Chitembwe has since been in the dock three times alongside former NSSF Managing Trustee Rachael Lumbasyo.

The charges arise from NSSF land deals with Kipkenda, Lilan and Company Advocates in July 2008.

They also face charges of abusing their offices in July 2008 when Chitembwe at NSSF as secretary.

Charged with them are lawyers Stephen Kipkenda and Edward Muriu Kamau.

According to the KACC quarterly report, 33 files were forwarded to the Attorney General between October 1 and December 31, last year. Out of these, 26 were recommended and accepted for prosecution.

The AG had, by January 11 this year, charged suspects in 17 of those files. The cases now making news in courts were forwarded to the AG a few weeks ago and instant decision made to charge suspects. Yet some of the accused say they had been under investigations for years.

Instant decision

Former Kenya Medical Research Institute director Davy Koech was charged on January 7, with acquiring more than Sh400 million from the orgnaisation.

Businessman Joshua Kulei was arraigned in court on January 29 for allegedly obtaining Sh17.9 million from East African Gas Ltd in May and June 1999 by false pretences. With him were former Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) MD Ezekiel Komen, former Lands Commissioner Wilson Gachanja and former Kenya Airports Authority MD Peter Kipyegon Lagat, all charged with conspiracy to defraud KPC in land deals.

Gachanja and Lagat faced more charges of abusing office in February 1996. Former KPC chairman Maurice Dantas, former MD Shem Ochuodho and two other people were separately charged with corruption involving more than Sh1 billion.

Ochuodho and Dantas also face trial for abusing their offices in 2004.

Laikipia West DC Javan Ombaso Abaga joined the list of accused for fraudulently disposing of Sh8,750,000 meant for IDPs in Molo in March last year. And the list goes on.

At the High Court, a case filed by Agriculture Minister William Ruto challenging his corruption trial is now awaiting judgment. It had been pending in court for years and was only heard in November last year.

It will determine whether the prosecution, before a magistrate, court will proceed or not.

The commission is also investigating the embezzlement of Sh103 million meant for Kenya Education Sector Support Project by some officials and mega land scandals in Mumias.

Though KACC is awaiting approval of new management by Parliament, the acting team is determined to prove they are equal to the task.

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