Jubilee leaders have dared Opposition chief Raila Odinga to come clean over corruption claims made by Dominion Farms.
National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale and head of Jubilee secretariat Raphael Tuju yesterday said Raila was quick to call for press conferences to accuse the Jubilee administration of corruption but was slow to respond when he faced similar allegations.
ODM leaders, on the other hand, accused the ruling coalition of using American investor Calvin Burgess to taint Raila’s reputation as a way of hampering his presidential bid.
Mr Duale and Mr Tuju now want the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Director of Public Prosecutions and Directorate of Criminal Investigations to investigate the matter.
“Raila cannot continuously talk about corruption but fail (to address) corruption claims touching him. We want Raila to speak about this scandal. I challenge him to call a press conference and answer to the allegations,” Duale said.
The Garissa Township MP added that the National Assembly would compel Mr Burgess to appear before its Lands committee.
“The committee has written to him and we want him to bring documents of what transpired between him and Raila,” he said.
Burgess has accused Raila and politicians associated with him of frustrating his business through extortion, violence and eviction threats.
He alleges that his troubles began when he refused to fund Raila and his ODM party.
“… Raila began demanding for me to support him politically with large sums of money. I explained that the US law called “The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” did not allow me to do this and would result in the end of the farm, my imprisonment and a $2 million (Sh207 million) fine in the US,” he said in a statement last week.
Tuju challenged Raila to respond to allegations that Sh105 million allegedly paid to an Indian company to conduct a feasibility study ended up in the pockets of ODM leaders.
“This week, the Siaya county government removed reference to this company from its website. Such removals do not alter the facts. Similar corrupt deals are written all over ODM-controlled counties, including colossal amounts of money spent on trips abroad ostensibly to woo foreign investors,” Tuju claimed.
He said the claims were grave and should be dealt with because they could lead to “enclaves where some people are a government unto themselves extorting money from investors and employing thuggery against anyone who disagrees with them”.
The former minister claimed there was an extortion ring in Nyanza that had continued to feed into the region that lags behind in development because it has been profiled as hostile to investors.
“The leaders from this region and the general public should know one economic truth – capital is shy. When investors are convinced that a region is hostile and full of extortionists it will impact negatively on Kisumu and the greater Luo Nyanza,” he added.
The Jubilee leaders also want the investor to be accorded the opportunity, protection and immunity to make statements with EACC, DCI and Parliament.
But ODM’s top leaders claimed yesterday that Burgess, the owner of Siaya-based Dominion Farms, had fallen prey to Jubilee’s campaign propaganda, adding that they had evidence Jubilee Party operatives had been meeting the investor to plot against Raila.
“His script does not add up. He is forcing a poorly written story to convince the world that Raila is corrupt. We challenge him to table evidence to back his wild allegations,” said ODM Director of Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi, who is also the MP for Ugunja.
Burgess, who has been farming rice and maize in the expansive Yala Swamp since 2003 when he signed a 25-year lease with the now defunct Siaya and Bondo county councils, accused the Opposition chief and his political associates of trying to extort campaign money from him.
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He claimed they frustrated his business following his reluctance to yield to their demands – by harassing his workers and destroying his property.
Siaya leaders who included Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, his Bondo counterpart Gideon Ochanda and Kisumu Deputy Governor Ruth Odinga, who are also mentioned by the investor in his 22-page statement, have rubbished the claims.
On Sunday, ODM chairman John Mbadi claimed Burgess was being used by Jubilee to taint the party’s reputation for political reasons.