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EACC, Parliamentary Committee meet to explore bottlenecks in prosecution of corruption cases

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Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chair George Murugara Gitonga (second R) having a word with members of the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee on the sidelines of a consultative meeting to strengthen anti-corruption crusade through sealing legislative loopholes and adequate funding which began in Naivasha on Monday.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Twalib Mbarak, has added his voice to the debate that has been on-going in the country on whether to consider according EACC prosecutorial powers, saying if implemented it was prone to abuse. 

Twalib welcomed the debate, saying it was healthy, but cautioned that influential people, especially politicians, were likely to abuse it and use it to their advantage, when seeking public office.

“We have not complained about the prosecution of corruption cases, in any case, we have a very cordial relationship with other government agencies that have the mandate to prosecute, including the Office of the Director of Public Commission (ODPP) and Office of the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and we believe we are slaying the dragon of corruption; piece by piece,” he stated.

Mbarak, however, noted that the Commission is currently faced with inadequate funding and sometimes interference, trivialization, and politicization of corruption cases, even by the media.

He was speaking in Naivasha, Monday, at the beginning of a week-long meeting with the members of the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, to discuss the challenges facing the fight against corruption in the country and how to resolve them.

The CEO advised Kenyans to elect leaders of integrity, to get the services they deserve and protect their resources.

He singled out Kisumu County, whose current leadership, he said, was very accountable in its use of public funds, noting that most counties are faced with poor leadership, un-procedural tendering and procurement processes, and interference in the employment of county personnel.

On the issue of the fatal accident of gas explosion in Embakasi, Nairobi, over the weekend where six lives have been lost so far and scores injured, Mbarak regretted the incident and blamed it on impunity in the country.

“If only Kenyans adhered to the rule of law and abandoned impunity which is part of corruption, such incidences would not be happening in the country,” the CEO lamented as he condoled with the victims of what he described as the unfortunate, but avoidable incident.

Twalib observed that the country has sufficient laws, but unfortunately, the lack of will to enforcement continues to hamper efficient government service delivery.

Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Chair, George Murugara Gitonga, on his part said the Committee which is mandated to oversight and legislate on matters of corruption, is meeting with various government agencies, including the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Judiciary, and the Office of the Director of Public Commission (ODPP), to strengthen the war on corruption.

The Parliamentary Committee Chair said their engagement with EACC will look into legislative interventions, and budgetary allocations, to enable the Commission to accelerate its anti-corruption mandate.

Responding to the issue of EACC being given prosecutorial powers, Gitonga who is also the Tharaka Member of Parliament (MP), said as the law stands now, only the Office of the Director of Public Commission (ODPP) and Office of the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI), have prosecutorial powers, however, he says  some prosecutors  can be seconded to EACC, to hasten prosecution of corruption matters, but investigator cannot turn prosecutor, as it can lead to a conflict of interests.

Gitonga also said the Committee will seek to use the legislative means to seal all existing loopholes that continue to be exploited to siphon public funds in both the National and County governments.

He lauded EACC for its continued anti-corruption crusade, which has seen successful recovery of grabbed public assets and public funds worth billions of shillings.

Gitonga at the same time said EACC is appraised on the rising public debt, which has so far hit the Ksh. 11 trillion mark, adding that the Agency needs to do a thorough investigation on how the funds were utilized, as Kenyans continue to bear the burden of the debt.

The EACC Chair, Bishop Dr.David Oginde, said there is a need to join forces with relevant government agencies, to fight and win the war on corruption, adding that a multi-agency approach will bear fruits.

Dr. Oginde said the Commission is investigating various corruption matters in the country, including misuse of public funds in both current and past regimes, to ensure Kenyans get value for their money.

He stated that the Naivasha meeting will look into challenges in various legal frameworks, close gaps used by corrupt individuals, and strengthen the fight against graft.