OKECH KENDO: EACC rains fear on piglanders
A governor is under probe for massive acquisition of property during the first five years of devolution. Thirteen others are on the radar. Three Cabinet Secretaries and assorted VIP suspects are also under probe. Other county executives are soon joining the queue of wanted thieves.
Pilferers of public funds should be afraid. Twalib Mbarak’s arrival at Integrity Centre 45 days ago has recharged the graft war. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission CEO has hit the ground running.
The EACC is re-branding, thanks to Mbarak’s grit. The man has a passion for the job. The people want more results — prosecutions, convictions and asset recovery.
Corruption-weary taxpayers have reason to hope the ferocious dragon can be slain. There is political goodwill at the presidency, and the fraternity against corruption is emboldened. The EACC has taken the lead role in the cast against thieves in public offices.
The suspect governor is said to have amassed assets whose value is 10 times more than his known income: A resort valued at Sh70 million, a commercial complex valued at Sh90 million, rental houses valued at Sh20 million and a county private residence valued at Sh100 million.
The status-stopper for the governor is a palatial city mansion, sitting on an acre of land in the exclusive Karen, valued at Sh300 million. Other assets could be hidden in the names of aunts, sisters and brothers. Bank accounts have not been mentioned. Nothing has been said yet of the popular pillow-banking.
The assets, the anti-corruption agency says, were acquired between 2013 and 2017. The timing shows devolution is ‘working’ for state thieves. The assets are valued at Sh700 million for a state officer whose salary before tax over six years is Sh73 million. An adviser of the governor is said to have amassed property valued at Sh300 million in under four years. The elected one has more advisers, executives, chief officers and directors aboard the gravy train.
About Sh2 billion is said to have been withdrawn, in cash, from different banks at one ago in this county. The booty, it is claimed, was shared among the eating clique.
This is not the only county where vultures are preying on public funds. There are more centres of plunder. But the suspects had no idea their patron would die so soon. In another county in Western, the Auditor General reports Sh2 billion ‘disappeared’. There are no expenditure records. But there are records of fires that targeted accountability offices. The suspects better know hiding evidence is a crime.
There is no evidence the money was invested in the county, where the living and the dead suffer the consequences of theft of public money. The morgue is congested and filthy. The roads are impassable. Residents are thirsty. Needy students are neglected, as ghost learners enjoy their bursary accounts
County executives are acquiring assets at a suicidal pace. Commercial complexes, hotels, mansions and residential estates are sprouting. Some are acquiring more wives in an ever-growing harem. King Solomon had better manners.
The era of state thieves seeking protection at Integrity Centre may be over. The many investigation files yellowing at the EACC or shredded to protect commercial thieves must be revisited. Mbarak must run even faster to rain fear in pigland. He should also clean up Integrity Centre, long known as the nexus of plunder. Commercial suspects, who steal billions and then spare a percentage for protection and legal fees for mercenary lawyers, should know their god died when the EACC acquired a new broom.
President Uhuru Kenyatta should not only be concerned about corruption case backlogs in courts or friendly bail terms for suspects. Those sitting on files in the offices of investigative agencies, such as the EACC, must be told the day of the long knives has arrived.
How did such careless, rapacious leaders arise? We the people petted the dragons. We must nail them to free the country from prolonged stupidity. Such plunder erodes the moral fabric of society, violates the social and economic rights of the vulnerable, undermines democracy, subverts the rule of law, which is the basis of civilisation, retards development and denies the poor the benefits of open competition.