Kenya: President Uhuru Kenyatta has told off leaders for citing the ongoing International Criminal Court trial as a reason for his deputy William Ruto to leave office.
He said the trial of the DP and former radio journalist Joshua Sang in The Hague is not about corruption, and insisted that governors linked to graft allegations must leave office until their names are cleared.
The President’s remarks came as Charity Ngilu (Lands) and Kazungu Kambi (Labour) yesterday became the fourth and fifth Cabinet secretaries to fall in line and “step aside” after they were named on the EACC’s so-called “list of shame” released by the President last Thursday.
Kambi, who is a strong ally of the DP, had previously dared President Kenyatta to “hang” him if he was found to be corrupt, claiming that he has always fought graft, while Ngilu was out of the country on official duty when the list was handed over to the National Assembly and the Senate.
President Kenyatta said there are “stark distinctions” between the ICC cases and the corruption allegations facing the leaders.
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“Politicians have tried to evade their responsibility with regard to integrity, accountability and transparency by irrelevantly, improperly and cynically making reference to the ongoing proceedings at the International Criminal Court.”
“It is imperative to recognise the stark distinctions between the ICC and corruption. The ICC cases are not about corruption. In any event, it will be recalled that claims touching on the ICC were canvassed at length before the Constitutional Court prior to the last General Election,” read a statement read by his spokesman Manoah Esipisu.
The remark appeared targeted at the Council of Governors that had cited the ICC predicament facing Ruto to argue graft claims against them were not sufficient to have them step aside, and to suggest their being elected officers cushions them from the directive.
“The fact that governors are elected leaders does not absolve them from accountability in accordance with the laws of the land. Election does not, and is not intended to confer a licence to loot,” read the State House statement.
While Kambi called a press conference to explain himself, it is the Presidential Strategic Communications Unit (PSCU) that communicated Ngilu’s decision and announced that ICT Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i will take up her role.
Central Organisations of Trade Unions (Cotu) Secretary General Francis Atwoli yesterday welcomed the move by Uhuru and said the EACC should investigate officials of the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) for secretly and illegally approving tenders worth Sh130 billion in joint venture projects for Mavoko Municipality and Kenyatta Avenue, Nairobi.
Speaking at a fundraiser in Machakos County, Atwoli urged President Kenyatta to remain firm and resist those demanding that their names be expunged from the list of shame.
He accused the NSSF management of restricting tendering for the project to 15 firms in violation of Section 31 of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005.
Ngilu returned to the country yesterday morning from a trip to the United States where she had been at the time the President dropped the bombshell to the nation.
Yesterday, her aide told The Standard she was set to meet the President at State House, Nairobi as she was ready to give way to investigations into any allegations against her although it is not clear if the meeting materialised.
Secretary to the Cabinet Francis Kimemia also stepped aside yesterday.
While the President cited Article 260 of the Constitution which places governors and other elected leaders in the bracket of state officers and therefore subject to the integrity test, scores of governors implicated in the EACC report have maintained that the Constitution provides the roadmap for the integrity test and the basis for their removal from office.
“Article 260 clearly describes county governors, legislators at all levels and other elected leaders as State Officers. Therefore, they fall squarely within the ambit of the constitutional and statutory requirements relating to integrity,” State House statement said.
It added: “Similarly, any claim that one is more or less innocent or guilty because in their view another person ought to be implicated is fraudulent and irresponsible. Leaders of integrity should not shy away from due process under any pretext.”
But Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto vowed yesterday not to step aside.
“I have never been called by the EACC over financial impropriety and was shocked to see my name on the list of those accused of alleged corruption. I have spent funds allocated to Bomet County prudently and financial monitoring institutions have given me a clean bill of health,” said Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto.
“I have delivered to the residents of Bomet and if there is any issue, they should decide whether to elect me or not,” he said at Kamwosor Primary School in Elgeyo Marakwet County during a funds drive in aid of a local church.
He was accompanied by Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos, West Pokot Senator John Lonyangapuo, Elgeyo Marakwet County Assembly Speaker Albert Kochei and several MCAs from the region.