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Governors seek truce as senators want more scalps

By Roselyne Obala | September 16th 2020
Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko was arrested on December 6, 2019, shortly after the chief prosecutor ordered he be detained to face charges of economic crimes. Governor was arrested at Voi and airlifted to Wilson Airport where he was transferred to EACC to face charges.[Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

Governors are seeking a meeting with the anti-graft agency over increased accusations over embezzlement of funds targeting them.

The request for a consultative meeting put in by the Council of Governors (CoG) comes at a time at least 17 governors are in the crosshairs of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over corruption-related cases.

But senators are demanding that even more county administrators be made to account, urging EACC to not only go after the current governors but also the former ones as they had passed resolutions in the House over graft in the counties since 2013.

The Standard has learned that the arrest of three governors in a span of two weeks has caused panic among the county officials, prompting CoG to request for a meeting with the commission.

According to inside sources, CoG chair Wycliffe Oparanya reached out to EACC through chair Archbishop (rtd) Eliud Wabukala in light of the latest onslaught.

The meeting would be a follow-up to another one held last November in Naivasha, Nakuru County, on the prevention of corruption in county governments.

“Following the communiqué emanating from the meeting, the Council hereby requests for a consultative meeting between the EACC commissioners, including Chief Executive Officer and the governors to deliberate on matters emerging from our previous interactions,“ Oparanya told Wabukhala.

Oparanya, who is also the Kakamega Governor, suggested that the meeting be held on Wednesday next week, or any date the commission prefers within the week.

Inside sources within CoG told The Standard that EACC is yet to make a commitment on the matter.

Already, seven-county bosses are battling corruption charges in courts in the wake of a renewed onslaught by the State following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to investigating agencies to go after all suspects irrespective of their political or public status.

Investigators at EACC told The Standard that 17 governors had already been grilled over accusations of breach of procurement and financial laws, conflict of interest, abuse of office, money laundering and skewed employment.

EACC chief executive Twalib Mbarak said the current investigations focusing on governors and their administrations would ensure accountability and servant leadership.

“This was lost as governors run county affairs with utter impunity in areas ranging from procurement to unprocedural hiring and firing of staffs. Today, things in counties are not done as per the laid down procedures but the wish and taste of the governor,” he said.

He said the commission would continue pursuing corrupt governors.

“If you cannot serve your country with integrity and honesty and provide servant leadership, you should rot in jail,” he warned.

The EACC boss said his office is not on a witch-hunt mission but it was only responding to public outcry to clean the widespread rot in counties.

Senators have backed probe in the counties.

“EACC action is long overdue. More than 25 governors should have been charged with corruption-related cases, going by the various resolutions of the House since 2013,” said Senate Minority Whip Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni).

Minority Leader James Orengo has also faulted governors, accusing them of resisting oversight but demanding more funds.

“If you read the dailies, you are more likely to find a governor mentioned in bad light in relation to Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act,” Orengo said recently.

Former County Public Accounts and Investment Committee chair Senator Moses Kajwang’ (Homa Bay) cited Section 53 of the Public Audit Act, which states: “The relevant accounting officer of a State organ or public entity shall within three months after Parliament has considered and made recommendations on the audit report, take the relevant steps to implement the recommendations of parliament on the report of the Auditor-General.”

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