MPs resolve to vet anti graft officials again over harassment claims

Parliament has demanded fresh vetting of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) secretariat, alleging that its officers were targeting Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa for sponsoring amendments to a Bill seeking the sacking of the chief executive and his deputy.

The National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee said it would summon the anti-graft agency to explain the alleged targeting of some MPs, even as the EACC issued a statement denying that Mr Wamalwa was under investigation.

The legislators claimed that EACC is targeting MPs who supported Mr Wamalwa’s amendment to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2015.

Mr Wamalwa day claimed that the anti-graft watchdog had dispatched investigators to scrutinise the Kiminini Constituency Development Fund (CDF) accounts and were intimidating his staff.

The MP sponsored a clause that requires EACC boss Halakhe Waqo and Mr Michael Mubea to serve in an acting capacity pending the recruitment of new officials once the Bill before Parliament is passed.

“I seek your direction on a matter that was overwhelmingly passed by this House. I am being targeted by the EACC after I sponsored an amendment seeking to have the secretariat re-vetted by this House,” said Mr Wamalwa.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is yet to receive the Bill from National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi for assent, the only step remaining to make it law.

“We have not commenced any investigations against Chris Wamalwa or in his Constituency Development Fund and the allegations made on the floor of the House were false,” said Mr Waqo in a letter addressed to Parliament.

“We are, however, undertaking a study on corruption in devolved funds in Kenya that is not restricted to a single constituency.”

READ: Focus on Uhuru after MPs vote to fire EACC executives

Samuel Chepkonga, who chairs the Justice and Legal Affairs committee, termed the revelations as “unfortunate.”

“It is saddening to hear that Mr Wamalwa has been harassed and traumatised by officers of the EACC following the amendment. It is unfortunate if indeed EACC is pursuing MPs on the basis of exercising their democratic rights to move Bills in this House.”

Mr Chepkonga said the committee would take up the matter with the EACC and demand to know the basis of investigations into Mr Wamalwa’s CDF books of account.

“This intimidation is uncalled for, unacceptable and will be resisted by my committee. If you are being intimidated, come to our committee and we will deal with the matter accordingly. No MP should feel intimidated by EACC which receives money from this House. We will protect you,” said Mr Chepkonga.

Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso directed members who had been intimidated or harassed by the EACC to approach the Justice and Legal Affairs committee for action.

“The issues raised by Mr Wamalwa should concern all of us. If it goes the way it is happening, it would suggest there are forces outside this House who want to direct how this House conducts business,” said Rarieda MP Nicholas Gumbo.