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26 counties under graft probe, says EACC boss

Counties account for half of corruption cases under investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

EACC Chief Executive Officer Halakhe Waqo said out of 411 cases pending in court, 200 are from counties while investigations in 26 devolved units are at various stages of conclusion.

Mr Waqo said 910 suspects are in court, with a high number of the cases involving prominent personalities and multi-million projects that include NYS, Anglo-leasing, Nairobi City County and the devolved governments.

He said the Judiciary has concluded 22 cases with 18 convictions, which is higher compared to previous years.

“This is by any standard a very high figure. It is over 90 per cent. This gives us a lot of courage and energy,” Mr Waqo told the Senate Legal Affairs Committee, chaired by Amos Wako (Busia) on Tuesday.

The commission is conducting 78 investigations on state officers for ethical breaches in 22 counties. The investigations relate to conflict of interest, irregularities in employment, and use of forged certificates to get employment.

EACC Vice Chairperson Sophia Lepuchirit observed that some of the county officials have become overnight millionaires due to corruption.

“We would like to do a lifestyle audit in counties. People who are poor are now driving big cars. Some have purchased helicopters. Some are building big houses. They are becoming mini presidents,” she said.

Senators Wako, and nominated senators Judith Sijeny and Fatuma Dullo sought to know why the commission descends on suspected corrupt Kenyans with a lot of energy only for the matter to drag on for years.

Mr Wako expressed concerns that delays to conclude the cases sending wrong signals on the war on corruption and that the commission must complete the investigations before the next general election.

The Senators expressed disappointment that corruption had devolved to counties and demanded to know if the cases are not proceeding due to political pressure or investigations have been compromised.

“What is happening in counties is going beyond corruption. It is theft of public funds. We could not like corruption to be devolved to counties. We would like you to give utmost priority,” Mr Wako said.

But, Mr Waqo dismissed claims that the commission had been compromised to go slow on corruption cases saying the justice system is not a one man show, but involves partnership with other institutions.

He said the office of public prosecutions, the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and the Judiciary are part of the justice process and it is impossible for the public to expect a suspect to be arraigned in court and the matter concluded within two to three days.

“There is no time we have dropped investigations due to pressure from either national or county governments, however weighty the representatives of those counties are. We don’t spare any county,” he said.

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