Yatani accuses EACC of malice over Sh1.2 billion graft probe

Former National Treasury CS Ukur Yatani when he was grilled at EACC on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. [Samson wire Standard] 

Former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has moved to court claiming that the Sh1.2 billion graft probe by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) is driven by malice.

Yatani became the first person within former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inner circle to be hunted during President William Ruto’s reign.

In his case filed before the High Court alongside his wife Dr Gumato Yatani, the former minister claimed that the raid on his Karen and Marsabit homes was illegal.

Yatani argued that the warrant issued by the magistrate’s court gave EACC officers a blank cheque to carry away anything that was not related to the probe.

Although he did not expressly state so, he accused EACC officers of theft as they allegedly walked away with items such as jewelry, cash and documents that were not recorded in any inventory.

Yatani said that the anti-graft body sought for a warrant of arrest on April 22, 2024, on the basis that it was investigating the embezzlement of public funds, procurement irregularities and irregular award of tenders by Marsabit County.

He argued that EACC stated that its focus was on Sh1.2 billion losses between 2013 and 2024.

The former CS said that the commission further claimed that companies associated with him traded with Marsabit and received the money for 11 years.

Yatani submitted that EACC told the magistrate’s court that the amount was received in the form of kickbacks and cash money.

He related his tribulations to the ordeal of Deputy President Rigachi Gachagua who claimed that officers got him out of bed and bundled him into their vehicle.

According to the former CS, EACC officers got to his Karen residence at exactly 5 am while they were asleep, forcefully entered the house, woke him up including Dr Gumato and the children and confiscated their phones.

He claimed his domestic helpers who were in their servants’ quarters were also roughed up.

“The first respondents did not prepare an inventory of the items that they seized and/or confiscated during their raid of the petitioners’ Karen residence. They chose to prepare the same at their premises whereupon the petitioner was coerced to sign the same as a precondition for his release,” he claims.

At the same time, he said that the officers also raided his wife’s office at Kanacho Nomadic Education Foundation which at the time was closed.

“Yet again, the first respondent did not make a record or inventory of what they took from the second petitioners’ offices."

"Further, during the raid the first Respondent threatened two cleaners working at the 2nd petitioner’s office aforesaid and attempted to force one of the cleaners to receive and sign the search warrant,” court papers filed by his lawyers Awele and Company Advocates read in part.

According to Yatani, the raids were unsupervised. “The first respondent’s officers may have planted fabricated evidence to frame the petitioners,” he said adding that in his Marsabit home, there was no one to witness or hold the officers to account.

He asserted that the raids had nothing to do with a criminal probe. Instead, he claims that it was a scheme to embarrass and humiliate him in public.

The former CS claimed that the commission had called the media to witness his alleged arrest.

He alleged that he left the house with the officers without being informed that he was under arrest.

“In a clearly pre-scripted act intended to embarrass the first petitioner, the first respondents’ officers instructed the first petitioner to alight from the vehicle in which he was transported and walk towards the main building of the entrance in the full glare of cameras, which was about 100m away,” said Yatani.

The former CS and his wife told the court that there was no reason for EACC to believe that they would not cooperate with its investigators.

He said that he was ordered to go to EACC on May 2, 2024.

“The petitioners further contend that the investigations have been mounted with the predominant purpose of achieving an illegal and ulterior motive; oppressing, harassing and persecuting the petitioners; and the petitioners are apprehensive that unless checked and reined in, the respondents will continue to act with impunity and to the detriment of the petitioners and the general administration of justice,” said Yatani in his supporting affidavit.

The CS asked the court to quash the search warrants and order the officers to return the items they carted away including cash and jewelry. He also sought for damages.

Yatani was the Marsabit county Governor from 2013 to 2017 before being appointed CS for Labour and Social Protection in 2019 and later reassigned to the National Treasury in 2020 where he served until 2022 under former President Uhuru Kenyatta's regime.

He was the Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations in Vienna from 2009 to 2012. Yatani also served as the Member of Parliament for North Horr constituency in 2006.