Oswago hits back at anti-graft team

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Former IEBC CEO James Oswago

By PETER LEFTIE

Former electoral commission chief executive James Oswago on Wednesday accused investigative agencies of using him as a sacrificial lamb in the ‘Chickengate’ scandal.

An angry Mr Oswago said the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Auditor General and the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) conducted selective investigations into the scandal and the procurement of election materials by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

“This is a case of real persecution; sacrificing an individual as catharsis for public disillusionment and anger over the outcome of the 2013 General Election. This is a case of a determination to save IEBC and its leadership by offering the former CEO as a burnt offering/sacrifice,” Mr Oswago said at the Nairobi Club, accompanied by his lawyer, Mr Jotham Arwa.

He spoke a day after the EACC recommended criminal charges against him and three other people over the ‘Chickengate’ scandal.

The commission cleared IEBC chairman Issack Hassan of corruption allegations related to the scandal. But it called for Mr Oswago’s prosecution together with the local agent of the UK printing firm Smith & Ouzman, Mr Trevy Oyombra, Ms Hamida Ali Kibwana and Mr Kenneth Karani.

In a report forwarded to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mr Keriako Tobiko, the commission said it found “evidence of criminal culpability on the part of the four persons.”
Mr Tobiko said his “office would independently review the EACC report and make a decision based on the facts.”

On Wednesday, Mr Oswago accused the EACC of going against the rules of natural justice by refusing to accord him a hearing and maintained that he had never been asked to record a statement with the commission over the matter.

“I was invited to EACC on this matter. In the process of taking my statement, my counsel noted irregularities in the approach taken by the EACC. This was discussed extensively with the director responsible and it was agreed that these objections be recorded in a letter addressed to the CEO of the EACC. In the meantime, further interrogation would stop until the EACC responded to this letter,” he said.

“The following day, Arwa sent the letter to EACC. To date no response has come from EACC despite one or two reminders from the counsel. The undertaking by EACC was to stop the process and further interrogation until this matter was resolved. Indeed no further interrogation has taken place to date. All I hear is that Oswago should be taken to court,” he added.

Mr Oswago noted that the EACC had never given him an opportunity to see or respond to the allegations made against him and did not give him a chance to make a formal statement on the matter.

The EACC, however, maintained that Mr Oswago was questioned on March 4, last year, and his first statement recorded.

A second statement was taken on February 26, this year, the EACC head of Corporate Communications, Mr Kairichi Marimba, said.

“Mr Oswago was shown documents that were relevant for his interview and allowed to comment,” Mr Marimba said.

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The commission cleared IEBC chairman Issack Hassan but he is known to be the face behind corruption within IEBC. He must resign as well for the sake of the country. 

proudly_kenyan

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