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Probe BAT graft claims against leaders swiftly

By Editorials | December 23rd 2015

Opposition leader Raila Odinga is the latest high-profile figure to be mentioned in the unravelling British American Tobacco (BAT) bribery saga.

Although, he has not been implicated directly, his office when he was Prime Minister, is alleged to have intervened to stop Kenya Revenue Authority from freezing the accounts of local cigarette manufacturer Mastermind over non-payment of taxes worth billions of shillings.

Others who have been accused by whistleblower Paul Hopkins are Moses Wetang'ula, another CORD leader, and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua. Both have vehemently denied the allegations and threatened to take legal action over the same.

BAT is alleged to have bought Mr Wetang'ula an air ticket to UK to be "hosted at Globe House" - BAT's London headquarters.

Ms Karua is alleged to have received Sh7.5m from the same company to help advance the company's commercial interests. Although she admits receiving Sh2 million from Hopkins, she says this was merely a donation for her campaign and that there were no strings attached.

At this point in time, it's hard to make conclusions based on Hopkins' claims, which havebeen published by various UK media.

Nevertherless, the allegations against the leaders are serious. The next General Election is on the horizon and the three are potential candidates for Kenya's topmost job—President.

It's a job that calls for the highest degree of integrity. This is why the allegations must be taken with the seriousness they deserve.

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But as things stand, there is no smoking gun, only allegations that have the potential to ruin political careers.

That's why Kenya must liase with UK to conduct expeditious investigations - Karua has already called for this - to establish the veracity or otherwise of these claims.

Anyone found culpable should do the needful - abandon State House dreams as they will have violated Chapter Six of our Constitution. In the same vein, every effort must be made to punish Hopkins and BAT for any wrongdoing.

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