The Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly could not marshal nine out of its 27 members to endorse final recommendations on investigations into the Sh1.6 billion National Youth Service scam.
This is seen as the latest in a series of tactics employed by a majority of members to scuttle investigations which, from preliminary analyses, implicate powerful figures in government. Only five members turned up for the meeting on Friday.
“We did not meet as earlier scheduled because members were not available,” Marakwet East MP Kangogo Bowen (Jubilee) said on Saturday.
He indicated that chairman Nicholas Gumbo (ODM) was reaching out to members to get quorum on Monday.
After Deputy President William Ruto’s personal assistant Farouk Kibet, his political ally Kipchumba Murkomen and some banks were dragged into the investigations, there have been claims they could be working behind the scenes to frustrate efforts to expose the real culprits of one of the biggest scandals.
The Standing Orders stipulate that a committee must have at least a third of the members present to transact business.
The fact that a number of opposition lawmakers are also implicated has meant that no side of the House is enthusiastic enough to push through with the recommendations with reports of concerted attempts to water down the verdict taking the centre-stage.
MPs are now pre-occupied with re-election and general attendance of sessions has gone lower especially in the committee. Plus, none of those under investigation wants to face an election with the tag of theft accusations.
UNABLE TO AGREE
On the few occasions the team has met, members have been unable to agree on who to recommend sanctions against and those to let off the hook. Such a meeting took place on February 1 in Mombasa and claims that they were required to endorse “a doctored report” are said to have scuttled the meeting.
Claims of extortion have derailed the investigations with some MPs being accused of turning the matter into a cash cow, demanding bribes from suspects in exchange for a favourable verdict. Mr Murkomen has even written to Speaker Justin Muturi to complain about it.
While Majority Leader Aden Duale accuses the committee of being complicit in the saga, the leadership of the Opposition in the House sees Jubilee’s hand in the impasse.
The Garissa Town MP insists Jubilee has reined in corruption. He says anyone found guilty in the ongoing investigations will not be spared. But the stalemate is good news for suspects who fear being implicated.
Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire (ODM) accuses Mr Duale of depicting the whole committee as corrupt.
“Some of us stand for higher ideals and we have been the voice of sobriety and reason in the House. We can’t stand by and watch Duale drag our reputations through the mud when it could be possible that they have something to hide on this matter given the political leanings of the beneficiaries,” he said.