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Governors and CSs among State officers facing citizenship probe

By Roselyne Obala | October 5th 2019 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

The anti-graft agency was by last night expanding the scope of investigations into the issue of State officers holding dual citizenship as panic spread among the target group.

The Saturday Standard established that the scope had now been extended to cover Cabinet Secretaries, Governors, Deputy Governors, MCAs, county executives and parastatal heads.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak yesterday confirmed the investigations are targeting all State and Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) officers.

“The exercise is meant to ensure compliance with the law. Based on intelligence reports and information given to us by the public, the scope of the investigations is not limited to specific institutions but all State officers,” Mbarak said. “The probe has nothing to do with Parliament as an institution but State officers. The law is very clear; the officers shall not hold dual citizenship. The same applies to the defence forces.”

Mbarak said the inquiry seeks to ascertain whether those alleged to have contravened the law are actually culpable.

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He said whereas the Constitution provides for dual citizenship, the same is prohibited for State and public officers save for a certain category such as judges, members of commissions or any person who has been made a citizen of another country by law, without ability to opt out.

“The commission will continue to escalate the war against both corruption and unethical conduct in line with Chapter Six of the Constitution, the Leadership and Integrity Act and other laws,” he said.

On Thursday night, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale ranted against EACC’s announcement that they were probing MPs. He linked the probe to Parliament’s rejection of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ambassador nominee to South Korea, Mwende Mwinzi.

Clever ways

“This is laughable, a total shame, fake and requires to be treated just as such, total fabrications, generous with falsehoods and economical with truths. Indeed, the so-called public interest litigators should have looked for other clever ways of arm-twisting Parliament. This one falls flat like a flat tyre,” Duale said.

He said the EACC was being pulled along into a blackmail scheme and that the Presidency “has also been misled” into a collision path with Parliament.

Yesterday, a number of MPs termed as vendetta the move by activist Okiya Omtatah to lodge an official complaint on dual citizenship with the EACC. Senate Majority Whip Susan Kihika denied having dual citizenship.

“I only have one citizenship. Living abroad does not confirm one to have acquired the nationality of the other country. This is politics at play and it is a propaganda season, you cannot rule out anything,” she said. “I am ready to be subjected to any investigations and the position will still be the same.”

Former MP Philip Kaloki, also named in the Omtatah dossier, dismissed the claims, saying he has lived and worked in the US but never been a citizen. He is currently the chairman of Kenya Medical Training College.

“This is nonsense. I was even in the US this week. I went to school there. I did my bachelors and masters degrees in the US and did my PhD at the University of Nairobi. I have never tried to change or acquire another citizenship,” he said.

He said the allegations should be dismissed by the EACC as they were not worth pursuing.

In Omtatah’s dossier, two senators were claimed to be US citizens while eight members of the National Assembly were said to be citizens of other countries.

“We know the people behind Omtatah’s move. If EACC knows of any MP with dual nationality, why has it taken this long to take action? What has informed this drastic move? If the law is to be applied, let it be across the board,” one of the MPs said.

Shem Ochuodho of the Kenya Diaspora Alliance defended Mwinzi’s nomination, saying the Act MPs were relying on in rejecting her was retrogressive.

“The Constitution defines who public and State officers are and it excludes judges, ambassadors, independent offices and commissions. The Act seeks to negate the same by including these categories,” Ochuodho said.

Omtatah is yet to disclose the source of his claims but maintained it was “credible but confidential” information. In his letter, he says he had been prompted by a decision of a Parliamentary Committee resolution to probe Mwinzi for allegedly violating the Constitution by refusing to denounce her US citizenship.

Mbarak made reference to Article 78(2) of the Constitution on citizenship and leadership, which stipulates that a State officer or a member of the defense forces shall not hold dual citizenship.

He also cited section 52(1) of the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012 that extends application of Chapter Six of the Constitution and the Act to public officers generally.

Mbarak said a public officer is defined under Article 260 of the Constitution to mean “any State officer or any person, other than a State officer, who holds a public office.”  

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