Mr. Halakhe Waqo appears to be covering up corruption in the highest levels including for his fellow tribesmen involved in the Kitchen gate scandal within Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and elsewhere.
A petition seeking the sacking of the head of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and his deputy has been handed to Parliament.
The petition, which was received by the Clerk of the National Assembly on Thursday, wants Parliament to start a process to remove EACC chairman Mumo Matemu and vice-chair Irene Keino over alleged violations of the Constitution.
The revelation came as President Uhuru Kenyatta fired a strong warning at the anti-corruption commission and the Director of Public Prosecutions over the slow pace of fighting corruption.
President Kenyatta, at the same time, appealed to Kenyans to deal honestly with the fight against corruption as he cautioned against doublespeak.
“But in the war against corruption, Kenyans cannot run with the hare and hunt with the dogs,” the President said through Senior Director of Communications at State House Munyori Buku.
The President, who is on an official visit to Japan, said the buck in the fight against corruption must stop with the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Director of Public Prosecutions as provided for in the Constitution.
“This institution and the Office of the DPP must roll up their sleeves and go to work. They have the constitutional safeguards, including protected tenure, and they will have no one to blame but themselves. And the blame for slackening efforts against corruption must be offloaded at the gates of the appropriate culprits — EACC and DPP,” said the statement.
President Kenyatta, who has spoken out vigorously in the past two weeks against corruption, said the Executive would protect no one.
“The Executive has not protected anybody suspected of graft; the Executive is not protecting anyone involved in graft; the Executive will not protect those who will dip their fingers in the public till. Who will EACC blame?”
Mr Buku said the President had called for transparency in procurement, “the biggest avenue for looters and their lackeys in government”.
“In the Executive Order Number 6 the President signed last week, Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries and parastatal CEOs must be more transparent. The names of bidders for tenders must be posted on the e-procurement platform. The outcome of the bids — those who win and lose and how — must also be displayed,” the spokesman said.
“Senior government officials caught up in corruption will not be spared ‘and will carry their own cross’”.
State House issued the statement in response to a Sunday Nation inquiry about the intrigues at Integrity Centre and the increasing incidence of corruption involving public officials including Members of Parliament.
The country has been treated to drama as MPs, who are members of the powerful Public Accounts Committee, traded accusations of taking bribes to shield top public servants adversely mentioned in audit reports.
On Saturday, Mr Matemu rejected the accusations contained in the petition to Parliament and said the woes facing the commission “is corruption fighting back”.
Nairobi lawyer Geoffrey Oriaro, who has petitioned Parliament to remove Mr Matemu and Ms Keino from office, says in his petition that the EACC chair had interfered with investigations into the multi-billion shilling Anglo Leasing scandal and should, therefore, be sacked.
He accuses Ms Keino of engaging in business with a State corporation through a company associated with her on matters related to sub-division of land titles, environmental impact assessment and parking in Nairobi.
The petition also says members of the commission had been helped to obtain government houses and wonders how their interaction with such government agencies would stand if there were to be investigations against those entities in the future.
According to the law, the Clerk of the National Assembly shall consider the petition and if it meets all the requirements, shall forward it to the Speaker for tabling.
The House shall then make a decision, which should be communicated to the petitioner within 15 days.
Mr Oriaro relies heavily on a controversial letter written by EACC commissioners Ms Keino and Prof Jane Onsongo where they accuse their chairman, Mr Matemu, of holding unofficial meetings meant to help Anglo Leasing suspects.
In the letter Ms Keino and Prof Onsongo make grave accusations. They accuse Matemu of incompetence, underhand deals and failure of leadership.
They would later write another letter to say that the issues they had raised had been resolved amicably. However, the petitioner disagrees.
“These are not issues that can be resolved between the chairperson on the one hand and the vice-chairperson and commissioner Prof Onsongo on the other. They are issues of integrity calling for the establishment of a tribunal to investigate them,” says Mr Oriaro.
“The war against corruption must begin by ensuring that members of the commission, like Caesar’s wife, are above suspicion,” the petitioner adds.
But Mr Matemu told the Sunday Nation: “There are people who are determined to ruin the reputation of the commission. The commission adheres to the tenets of the Constitution and however much they try to damage the reputation, we will still be here to fight graft at all levels.”
He said that shadowy forces attacking the commission were trying to gain illicit control.
“That they either be in charge or bring it down. What is being witnessed is a fight back. They have tried to use different channels to put dirt on the commission since we came to office. All I want Kenyans to know is that when the sun sets, we will table our achievements. When the books of history are written, our input in the fight against this monster called corruption will be listed,” Mr Matemu said.
Mr Oriaro accuses Mr Matemu of having met one of the key suspects in the Anglo Leasing scandal, Mr Kamani, clandestinely but does not specify which of the three Kamanis charged in court recently he met.
Controversial businessman Deepak Kamani appeared before Chief Magistrate Hannah Ndung’u on March 5 when he denied fraudulently acquiring public property in contravention of procurement laws.
Mr Kamani is accused of conspiring with top government officials to defraud taxpayers of over €99 million (Sh10 billion) through his companies Infotalent Limited, Apex Finance Corporation and Sound Day Corporation.
Mr Kamani was charged alongside his brother Rashmi Kamani and father Chamanlal Kamani. The three are out on cash bail.
The lawyer also tells Parliament that it is within his knowledge that Mr Matemu “habitually interferes with operational matters including requesting for particular investigation files through unofficial methods and short-circuiting of the chief executive officer, in order to establish the status of investigations in those specific files.”
The lawyer also refers to the conflict between Mr Matemu and the EACC chief Executive Halakhe Waqo, which he says calls to question the integrity of the commission. He tells Parliament that Mrs Keino is involved in certain businesses whose integrity should also be examined.
When we sought his comment, Oriaro said that EACC was dysfunctional and had no fire and passion to fight corruption. He said he decided to petition Parliament because the timing of the crisis at EACC was suspect. He said that the petition to President Uhuru Kenyatta by two deputy commissioners Irene Keino and Jane Onsongo shows that the board is dysfunctional.
“How is it that this crisis starts when they take Anglo Leasing cases to court? This is suspect because the man handling it cannot be the one who is being removed from office. And if the board is dysfunctional we cannot pretend that they are working together even after showing solidarity in public. They must prove through a tribunal that they still have the fire and passion to fight corruption. That is the only way the national values as espoused in the national constitution can be upheld,” says Mr Oriaro.
The two deputies have since recanted the contents of the petition to Uhuru claiming that they were misled.
Chairman Mumo Matemu (pictured) is a tough man determined to do the right things for Kenya. However, his hands are tied after his subordinates starting with Mr. Halakhe Waqo conspired to fix him.