As action on corruption resumes, a test of the commitment

July 23, 2021 - 5 minutes read

Two incidents on Thursday and another one on Friday morning have swung the spotlight back on corruption. 

The Thursday ones involved Justices Aggrey Muchelule and Said Juma Chitembwe, whose officers were stormed and searched by officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations before they were taken away. They were questioned for several hours and let go in the evening, with the police cagey about the reasons for their arrest, even as their lawyer, Danstan Omari, alleged harassment. The lawyer also claimed that the police officers were searching for money and had found none, suggesting that it was a matter to do with corruption. 

Friday morning’s arrest of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, again by officers from the DCI, was more direct. The former civil servant has been on the radar of the authorities over some KSh12 billion spread across 42 of his bank accounts that is suspected to be proceeds of corruption. 

Mr Gachagua has of late cast himself as a close ally of the Deputy President and is among those of his supporters who say they are being persecuted on account of their support for his bid for the presidency. 

The prosecution of corruption, particularly that of senior government officials and politicians, has been among the projects that President Kenyatta was keen on as part of his legacy. He had wanted to assuage the anger amongst Kenyans that the so-called big fish responsible for the biggest corruption eventually buy their way out. 

The prosecution of former governors Mike Sonko and Ferdinand Waititu was among headline cases in that regard, but the usual delays in getting hearings going and preliminary issues have ensured little progress in the cases. The case against the former National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich continues to waver. 

If they eventually get him to the dock and they prove the headline-grabbing allegations, Mr Gachagua’s case will be one to watch. The claim centers around tenders from counties and the national government, where the money would eventually end up in accounts held by Wamunyoro Investments Ltd, a company owned by Mr Gachagua and his wife, who is a pastor. 

As he fought an attempt by the Assets Recovery Agency to freeze the accounts, Mr Gachagua managed to withdraw and distribute KSh7.3 billion, leaving more than KSh5.2 billion. More than 100 people have been questioned over the course of the investigation. 

A successful prosecution is bound to uncover a lot of secret dealings, but whether it can be done successfully will be yet another test of the authorities’ competence and efficiency, and a sure legacy project. 

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