Kenya's Most Authoritative Political Newspaper

Citizen Weekly

Monday, 23 March 2015

UHURU TO SUSPEND ENERGY CABINET SECRETARY CHIRCHIR



THE Commission on Administrative Justice has asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop sending what it terms “mixed signals” on anti-corruption and crack the whip on high-profile State officers implicated in scandals.
The Commission, also known as the Ombudsman, maintained that the President should immediately suspend Energy Cabinet Secretary Davies Chirchir if his tough talk on sleaze is to be believed.
Ombudsman Otiende Amollo insisted that “a lot still needs to be done factually and not just by declaration”, citing a recent Executive Order by Uhuru that gave the civil service a two-week ultimatum on corruption.
“While I have no doubt that the President is committed to fighting graft, by allowing officials whose names have been gravely mentioned in matters of corruption to continue in office, the executive ends up sending a mixed signal,” Otiende told the Star in an exclusive interview.
“The CS for Energy ought to be suspended, pending a quick probe into the matter. And this is not to say that he is guilty,” he said.
Chirchir and IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan are among senior State officers implicated in the Sh50 million ChickenGate scam.
A London court has jailed the two top directors of British printing firm Smith & Ouzman for bribing Kenyan and other African officials to secure contracts.
Defence Principal Secretary Mutea Iringo is also fighting for his career over some Sh2.9 billion lost during the presidential transition in 2013, for which the Parliamentary Accounts Committee has recommended his prosecution.
“If there was any particular offence to which Parliament investigated a matter and found an officer culpable and that report was submitted to the whole House and adopted, then it will be proper to ask that officer to step aside,” Otiende pointed out.
The Ombudsman, who was also among the Committee of Experts that drafted the 2010 constitution, maintained the law holds that government officials implicated in graft must step aside.
“It is not about waiting until you are charged in a court of law. It’s not until you are convicted. The expectation of the constitution – both in letter and spirit – would be that, in all these instances where people are adversely mentioned, in truth they should step aside,” Otiende said.
Stung by runaway corruption, Uhuru, in a hard-hitting but confidential Executive Order, asked all government departments and agencies to furnish his office with their anti-graft strategy in two weeks.
Part of the directive was that all State corporations must within two weeks give his office details of all procurement deals sealed since his administration took over in 2013 – complete with contract value and awardees.
The two-week ultimatum lapsed on Friday last week.
Otiende said his office is finalising a probe into the anti-graft agency and would then send their report to the National Assembly.
On Friday, Parliament received a petition seeking to remove EACC Chairman Mumo Matemu and Vice Chair Irene Keino over what the petitioner, Geoffrey Oriaro, described as incompetence and violation of the constitution.
“We are investigating claims that the Deputy CEO [Michael Mubea] was earning more money than is authorised by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and perhaps more than was approved by the Commission itself and more than was offered to his colleague because there are supposed to be two deputies,” Otiende said.
“We are also investigating claims that the Vice Chair and the Deputy CEO may have gotten some houses from NSSF as forbearance in respect to some investigations the EACC had with NSSF,” he said.
The Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee has up to 14 days to decide whether the two EACC chiefs should be sent packing.