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Citizen Weekly

Friday, 6 March 2015

ABABU PROBE SPLITS ODM



NAIROBI: ODM was Friday split over the suspension and investigation of corruption allegations in the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC). The party’s secretary general Ababu Namwamba, who chairs the PAC, and ODM vice-chairman Paul Otuoma (Funyula) termed the move a plot to oust Namwamba from the committee, and ultimately out of ODM. But ODM national chairman John Mbadi (Suba), MPs Omondi Anyanga (Nyatike) and Aduma Owuor (Nyakach), both members of the PAC, said the issue has to be investigated to make sure the committee had the competence and credibility to keep watch on the national government. Namwamba dismissed the probe of his committee, as a “kangaroo court” convened in a hurry with a pre-determined end. “I am a believer in due process, but I have no time for sham kangaroo court trials with a pre-determined end. There are a million reasons to suspect foul play here,” said the Budalang’i MP. The PAC chairman read a government-orchestrated conspiracy to kick him out of the crucial watchdog committee, just a day after National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi ordered the investigations and designated Moses Cheboi (Kuresoi North, Kanu) as the lead investigator. See also: Row in ODM over Homa Bay election For the first time since the corruption allegations exploded within the National Assembly, Namwamba has pointed an accusing finger at Majority Leader Aden Duale (Garissa Township) whom he labels as the “chief architect of the woes” of his committee that has been suspended for the next three weeks. “Duale moves a cheeky Motion, then Speaker delivers what he calls a reasoned ruling the following day. The very legal basis of that ruling is wishy-washy. And why the rush? Why the selective probe? There is a conspiracy here. But I will defeat it with truth,” Namwamba said. But the Majority Leader without mincing words responded, “Ababu cannot hide anymore. He has serious graft allegations hanging over his head. For this reason, he has no moral high ground to chair the most powerful opposition-led committee. The best he can do is heed the Speakers ruling, take a walk into the powers and privileges committee to clear his name. PAC is a very crucial committee previously chaired by men of high repute like Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, Mwai Kibaki, Kijana Wamalwa and Uhuru Kenyatta.” Mr Otuoma accused Mr Muturi of having “unreasonable interest” in PAC. “What is so unique with PAC that the Speaker moves quickly to suspend it without following the laid down parliamentary procedure? These are mere allegations and without evidence, we sense something sinister in the whole issue,” he said. The Funyula MP noted that there are standing orders that guide conflict resolution in the August House. He took issue with Mr Mbadi whom he accused of dividing the party rather than uniting it. “It is naivety on the part of our party chairman who doesn’t understand the responsibilities placed on his shoulders. He seems not ready for the responsibility. He is running the party as his property rather than an institution. Mbadi should clarify to the public that the statements he is making are his, not the party,” said the ODM vice chairman.
He said PAC is not an ODM matter. “The party hasn’t discussed the issue and instead of antagonising elected leaders, Mbadi should be mature and act with restraint to promote diversity,” Otuoma said. But the ODM chairman thinks the PAC was beyond salvage. “There are serious allegations of corruption in the committee, which cannot be wished away because they have dented its image. Many of its members have been bribed to the extent that the committee cannot stand. It was only through disbanding the committee and reconstituting it afresh that can save its image and make it more effective to ensure accountability in the use of public resources in the country,” Mbadi said. Owuor concurred with Mbadi, saying the bribery allegations in the committee have painted ODM in bad light. “Our image has been put into focus following claims that our party secretary general has been compromised,” said Mr Aduma. Mr Anyanga added: “When there are issues of accusations and counter accusations like it has happened within our committee, it is important for an independent body to come in and unearth the truth. I therefore support the decision of the Speaker to suspend the committee,” he added. The Standard on Saturday learnt Friday that the Speaker had handed evidence and complaints of corruption against the beleaguered members of the PAC to the disciplinarian Committee on Privileges in readiness for the inquiry set to begin on Monday afternoon. Contacted for comment, the lead investigator, Mr Cheboi, wondered that Namwamba could actually dismiss a House Committee. See also: Row in ODM over Homa Bay election “I don’t believe he can say that. He is an experienced parliamentarian,” he said. The dossier includes a transcript of the heated closed-door meeting held ten days ago where Namwamba made allegations of corruption against six MPs and an audio recording with details of how MPs shared out millions in bribes with the intention of altering the report. The bundle is in the custody of the Clerk of the National Assembly, Justin Bundi, and will be submitted to the investigation team when it first meets on Monday afternoon at Parliament Buildings. Namwamba, and some members of the PAC Joseph Manje (Kajiado North, TNA) and Sylvance Osele (Kabondo Kasipul, ODM) had argued in the House before the Speaker’s ruling that calls for an investigation on the credibility of PAC pointed at a plot to have the committee disbanded. They said it was wrong for them to be punished as a group for crimes committed by a few individuals within the committee. At the same time, UDF secretary general Justus Kizito said that there are questions on committees in Parliament and singling out the PAC was insincere. Kizito added: “Namwamba’s star was rising and someone could be working behind the scenes to compromise his political push.”