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House committee to invite EACC and DPP to shed light on Auditor case

The parliamentary committee considering the petition for the removal of Auditor-General Edward Ouko is this Thursday set to meet the heads of two other independent offices as it investigates the allegations against him.

Officials from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Director of Public Prosecutions have been invited to meet the Finance, Trade and Planning Committee of the National Assembly.

The decision to have the two institutions was reached at a closed-door meeting of the committee on Thursday, a day after the petitioner in the case, lawyer Emmanuel Mwagambo Mwagonah, wrote to say he would not be submitting evidence to back his claims.

“I reiterate, as I did yesterday, February 28, that the committee is empowered by Article 125 of the Constitution to compel the production of any document and to enforce the attendance of any witnesses that it will need to arrive at a reasoned determination,” said Mr Mwagonah in the letter to the National Assembly seen by the Nation.

He cited the Petition to Parliament (Procedure) Act and the Standing Orders. The House rules merely state that a petition “may contain affidavits or other documents annexed to it.”  

Backers of the petition in the National Assembly see the attendance of the EACC and the DPP as an opportunity to scrutinise the circumstances behind the two institutions’ differences regarding investigations against Mr Ouko.

ABUSE OF OFFICE

The EACC had recommended that Mr Ouko be charged with abuse of office and failure to comply with procurement laws. But the DPP, Mr Keriako Tobiko, rejected the charges, effectively clearing Mr Ouko.

A senior MP who wants the matter pursued told the Nation the circumstances were curious enough to warrant a deeper look. Mr Tobiko first spoke of coming under intense pressure to charge Mr Ouko and on the following morning, at 4.47 am to be precise, sent a statement to newsrooms outlining the action to be taken in the case where the Office of the Auditor-General bought software at an inflated price.

On Mr Ouko’s side are MPs who point out the fact that Mr Mwagonah appears to be working at the behest of an unseen hand. Despite claiming to be the petitioner, Mr Mwagonah stated in an affidavit attached to the petition that, “I am one of the petitioners…”

He also confessed that he got information on the alleged wrongdoing of Mr Ouko in the course of handling a case on behalf of a client. The case he gave was Judicial Review No. 14 of 2017, whose parties were cited as Bishop Bernard Muthoka and 13 others.

“That (case) was to compel the DPP to act on the report of the EACC. Part of the EACC’s report’s recommendations was that the Auditor-General ought to be charge with certain criminal offences,” Mr Mwagonah told the Nation.

HIDDEN HAND

The case had apparently been filed because while the DPP had been handed the EACC report sometime in December 2016, he was yet to make a decision by January 19, the date the lawyer moved to court.

That Mr Mwagonah could be working on the instructions of a hidden hand  could be the petition’s undoing, combined with the speed with which it was processed in Parliament and the fact that the rest of the allegations against Mr Ouko could only have been obtained from insiders at the office he heads.

Opposition MPs have also been attending the meetings of the committee and have been active, using the legal knowledge and tactics of Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang’, the experience of Dalmas Otieno and the combativeness of Nyando MP Fred Outa to defend Mr Ouko. ODM Nominated MP Oburu Oginga went to the extent of claiming there is a plot to eject “any Jaluo holding a senior position.”

Nominated MP Johnson Sakaja has been critical of the methods employed by the Opposition and the reluctance by civil society groups to have the allegations against Mr Ouko verified.

“What we want to establish is the truth of those allegations. If there are no grounds, they will be dismissed. If there is truth, it shall come out,” said Mr Sakaja.

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