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CS Keter under fire over Kenya Power remarks

COUNTIES
By Protus Onyango | July 18th 2018

Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter has been criticised for his comments on the arrest of Kenya Power senior managers.

While announcing interim managers at the company on Monday, Mr Keter complained about the manner the 19 suspects, who are facing corruption cases, were arrested.

The CS likened the arrest to the 1993 plane crash that killed the entire Zambia national soccer team.

But the remarks have put him on the line of fire, with some leaders calling for his resignation and investigations on what role he might have played in the scandal.

His critics said his statements suggested that he knew who was guilty in the scandal facing the power firm and who was not.

Others said his statement contradicted President Uhuru Kenyatta’s message on corruption and undermined the Cabinet's collective responsibility.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji said the issue of being sacrificial or not did not arise in the fight against corruption.

Suspects innocent

“The CS should not be worried. All people are innocent until proved otherwise. We have the evidence against those who were arrested. We will present it and the courts will decide,” said Mr Haji.

The National Assembly Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman, Opiyo Wandayi, said Keter’s utterances sent wrong signals about how the Government was carrying out its duties.

He said the CS’s remarks showed that the fight against corruption was not shared by all Cabinet members.

“He should resign. He cannot be sitting in the Cabinet while lamenting about the Government's actions. I expect the President to read the riot act and call his Cabinet to order. Those who do not support him should be fired,” Mr Wandayi said.

Makueni MP Dan Maanzo said the CS should be probed.

“Keter is not justified in his utterances. Let him allow the police do their job according to available evidence. The CS should be investigated too," he said.

Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu criticised the CS.

“Keter seems to be suggesting that people suspected to be corrupt are special and different from people suspected of other crimes,” said Mr Wambugu.

National Super Alliance (NASA) co-principal Musalia Mudavadi described Keter's remarks as reckless.

Unfortunate remarks

He said it was unfortunate given that he was the CS in charge of the docket under investigation.

“He should be enjoined in the case because he seems to know who is guilty,” said Mr Mudavadi. 

Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi said Keter's statements should not be seen to be abetting corruption.

“We should broaden the conversation about corruption. We shouldn’t bury our heads in the sand and say that there is no corruption, which is costly to our society,” said the governor.

He called on Kenyans to be involved in the fight against corruption.

Wiper deputy party leader Farah Maalim accused Keter of overstepping his mandate.

“The CS has no investigative credentials. He is only concerned with policy and can’t determine who is a suspect or not. In what capacity was he questioning the police actions?" asked Mr Maalim.

Lawyer Apollo Mboya, who has sued Kenya Power over inflated power tariffs, said police action in arresting the suspects were within the law and the CS should not condemn them.

“Keter’s views are just a storm in a cup. People can be arrested as and when security apparatus deem it fit. There is no crime here. Crime can only be determined by the court,” said the lawyer.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior advised Keter to raise his complaints in court and warned police against mistreating suspects.

“No one should be harassed or frog-marched unless they have resisted arrest or made it impossible to effect warrants,” he said.

Consumer Federation of Kenya Secretary General Stephen Mutoro called for the respect of the rule of law during arrest of suspects.

“Let us separate corruption and laws. The CS is accurate in asking for humane handling of suspects. Kenyans want quick action on corruption, but unfortunately we operate under the rule of law,” Mr Mutoro said.

Supported Keter

But some MPs supported Keter's views on the manner in which top Kenya Power officials were arrested and taken to court.

Belgut MP Nelson Koech said he planned to table an amendment in Parliament to stop the arrest of suspects on Friday.

He claimed drama around the Kenya Power suspects' arrest was about 2022 election politics.

“What happened to the presumption of innocence? This government is punishing innocent people purely because of 2022,” said the MP.

Kuresoi South MP Joseph Tonui said though the fight against corruption was justified, the justice system should work within the law and treat civil servants with dignity.

Nakuru Town West Samuel Arama said the manner the police arrested the suspects was wrong.

“There is a better way of executing these arrests and investigators should explore them. They can confiscate passports and summon these officials without embarrassing them,” he said.

Efforts to get Keter's comments on the matter failed as the CS failed answer telephone calls or respond to messages.

(Additional reporting by Patrick Kibet)

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