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Mithika Linturi: How Uhuru's allies forced me to spare Waiguru

Agriculture CS nominee Mithika Linturi during his vetting at the county Hall, Nairobi on October 21, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Details of how Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru escaped impeachment by a hair’s breadth while serving as the Devolution Cabinet Secretary in 2016 yesterday came to light.

In a tantalizing blow-by-blow account Agriculture, Cabinet Secretary nominee Mithika Linturi told how President Uhuru Kenyatta and his allies forced him to withdraw an impeachment motion against Waiguru over a Sh1.9 billion National Youth Service (NYS) scandal.

According to a report by former Auditor General Edward Ouko, Kenyan taxpayers lost Sh1.9b in the National Youth Service (NYS) scandal that involved businesswoman Josephine Kabura. The report stated that Kabura received Sh1.3b on account of 11 companies that did business with the NYS. She was also to receive part of another Sh675 million that was never actualised.

The report which was ordered for by the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee after the scandal rocked the country noted, “The special audit noted fraudulent practices that led to the losses of Sh1,863,512,256 in various circumstances as is in Case 1 (Sh791,385,000), Case 2 (Sh609,252,760), Case 3 (Sh240,751,576) and Case 4 (Sh222,122,919).”

Linturi, who was appearing before the Committee on Appointments yesterday revealed that it was on the basis of these revelations, that he introduced a petition to impeach Waiguru. The issue came up after Kathiani MP Robert Mbui lodged a question on why the motion was never debated in the 11th parliament.

“While serving as Igembe South MP in the 11th parliament the nominee presented a petition to impeach the then Devolution CS Anne Waiguru over a scandal that was rocking the country which involved over 1.9b NYS,” said Mbui.

“MPs signed the petition which had weighty issues but on the day it was to be debated in parliament, the nominee did not show up and even for a while after that. After he came back that issue seemed to have been swept under the carpet,” stated Mbui.

Linturi took this as an invitation to lift the veil on his version of the truth. He recalled how a day before the motion was debated in Parliament, he was coerced to sign a letter –allegedly drafted by then Deputy Chief of Staff Njee Muturi- calling for the withdrawal of the ouster motion.

“A letter to withdraw the motion was drafted by Njee Muturi and I was asked to sign. Speaker Justin Muturi was called from somewhere in Kilimani. He was told to go back to the House (Parliament) and informed that there was a letter that was being brought to withdraw that motion,” said Linturi.

“Jomo Gecaga delivered that letter past 8 o’clock,” he added.

Gecaga is retired President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nephew and served as his personal assistant. His account of events was collaborated and put into perspective by National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichungwa who confessed to having played a hand in the series of events that led to the eventual flop of the ouster motion.

“I may as well make a disclosure that it is an actual fact that I got Linturi to Jacaranda Hotel (where he was made to sign the document). The circumstances then, if you know the kind of president we had, when you have a gun over your head you really had no choice,” stated Ichungwa.

He added, “It is indeed true that letter was signed by Linturi in the business centre of Jacaranda Hotel. I was then the vice chair of the Public Investments Committee and I was directed by non-other than President Uhuru Kenyatta to ship Linturi out of this country in a trip we were going to Turkey that weekend.”

The revelations elicited animated debate from other committee members even as Mbui questioned the order of events as narrated by Linturi.

“For the record, the motion was not withdrawn. It was still listed on the order paper. On the day of the intended debate, it was read out but the nominee was a no-show. It was called out but he was not there to move it,” stated Mbui.

The legislator went on to explain that as a result of Linturi’s absence- and him being the mover of the motion- the motion did not proceed, effectively averting what would have been Waiguru’s dark fate.

“I was not in charge of the secretariat of the Assembly and had no power over the placement of the order paper but what I have said is the truth and we can go back to the Hansard to check what I recorded then after my return,” rebutted Linturi.

The CS designate regretted that those were the unfortunate events that strained his relationship with President Uhuru.

“Those are the circumstances that I found myself in. I signed the letter and the President was there then. From that time my relationship and him went sour. That thing has really tormented me yet members keep asking me about it…” added Linturi.

At the same time, Linturi has defended the controversial lifting of the ban on Genetically Modified (GMO) foods by President Ruto. He argued that the move was informed by the acute food shortage and drought in the country, further noting no scientific research had proven that GMO foods were harmful.