Raila Odinga steps in as Ababu Namwamba seeks open PAC hearing

Ababu Namwamba peruses documents when he appeared before National Assembly’s Powers and Privileges Committee. [PHOTO: GOVEDI ASUTSA/STANDARD]

NAIROBI: Embattled Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Ababu Namwamba Wednesday gave conditions for his participation in the National Assembly investigation into his conduct, including public hearings and face-to-face meeting with his accusers.

Mr Namwamba made the demands when he appeared before the Powers and Privileges Committee investigating claims of bribery against him and members of the PAC arising from the committee's inquiry into the spending of Sh2.9 billion in secret accounts under the Office of the President.

And ODM leader Raila Odinga waded into the controversy saying the spotlight shone on the recipients of the bribes should, too, be directed at those who dished out the bribes, in an apparent dig at a top official implicated in the scandal.


"I have never condoned corruption in my life. Let Parliament deal with its issues of corruption. The media should also be fair and equally follow the person said to have given the bribe," Raila said at Orange House in Nairobi.

Raila likened the focus on those alleged to have taken bribes to chasing a dog left with a bone after the meat has been stolen and eaten.

In Parliament Buildings, Namwamba is said to have listed the "challenging conditions" he wants addressed before he is grilled during the closed-door session.

Budalang'i MP allegedly caught members of the grilling committee by surprise with the demand that the probe sessions be opened to public so that questions about integrity of MPs are exhaustively canvassed.

But a section of committee members are said to have expressed their discomfort in making the hearings public, insisting that the committee needed to protect the privileged information that may be produced before the team.

Sources at the committee, which met Namwamba for close to four hours, said he also demanded that his accusers first appear before him to state their claim that he received bribes, and also that he be allowed to face them "across the grilling table".

"We did not get into the real probe. Namwamba came before us in a very combative mood and gave us very challenging conditions, which he says must first be met. We are still discussing these demands but we have not reached an agreement on them yet," said the source.

Namwamba appeared to collaborate the sentiments of the source as he disclosed that he had raised some preliminary issues that the committee needed to first deliberate on before he resumes his appearance before them this morning.

While Namwamba declined to divulge more details on his meeting with Kuresoi North MP Moses Cheboi-led committee, his close ally told The Standard that he was keen to challenge the integrity of even some of those sitting in the probe committee and his accusers.

Namwamba also revealed that he wanted his accusers to first appear before the committee "to put into context what it is that I will be responding to".

"If anyone makes accusations against you, it is always fair that they first come and frame the issues so that you respond to them later. Your responses have to be in the context of what the accusations are," he said.

He added: "I thought it would be improper to respond to that which has not been laid. If you are responding to allegations, whoever is making the allegations comes first".

Namwamba said he was ready to take part in the process as he was keen on ensuring that truth plays out in the process.

"I respect due process and especially the authority of the National Assembly. I would not want to do anything that is in breach of the rules and the traditions of the House," he said.

On the floor of the House, National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi cautioned MPs against discussing substantive matters under the committees probe, warning that action would be taken against those flouting the standing orders that prohibit discussing a matter before the committee.

Muturi said it was wrong for MPs to make premature disclosures of the proceedings, and comments made away from the sittings of the committee amount to libel.

"Any member commenting on matters before the committee or making disparaging remarks against their fellow members in whatever forum will be held personally responsible and will face the full wrath of the House," cautioned Muturi.

CORD leader has maintained that more than Sh15 billion was removed from the Central Bank of Kenya and ended up in a secret account of a senior official in the Government.

The Auditor General's report of 2014 indicated that more than Sh8.3 billion was withdrawn during the transition period from the Grand Coalition Government.

But the Ababu-led team probing the allegations concluded in its report that only Sh2.9 billion could not be accounted for.