Kenya: EACC Keeps Mum About ‘Chickengate’ Probe

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has kept mum after it missed, for the second time, a self-imposed deadline to complete investigations into the ‘chickengate’ scandal.

EACC chief executive Halakhe Waqo on Tuesday declined to respond to media queries despite having said earlier that the probe into the bribery scam — already concluded in the United Kingdom — would be completed by end of June.

Kenyan electoral and examination officials are alleged to have received hefty bribes, codenamed ‘Chicken’, totalling Sh52 million.

The agency’s chairman, Philip Kinisu, had earlier in February given his sleuths a two-week ultimatum to complete investigations into ‘Chickengate’, but the date lapsed without EACC updates.

Both Mr Waqo and Mr Kinisu declined to respond to our queries.

Mr Waqo on May 18 told the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that the ‘Chickengate’ probe “was complete” and that EACC would forward the file and recommendations to the director of public prosecutions by June 30.

John Githongo, a former anti-graft czar, said the EACC needs to be overhauled in light of how it is handling the ‘chickengate’ bribery scam and other major corruption cases.

“Thus far, the EACC isn’t value for money to Kenyans and the ‘chickengate’ investigation seems to be a public relations junket,” Mr Githongo said in an interview with Business Daily. He added: “Its institutional design right now sets it up for failure in our political context.”

London’s Southwark Crown Court in February 2015 sentenced two directors of Smith & Ouzman Ltd to jail and in January this year seized the assets of the printing firm convicted of bribing IEBC and Kenya National Examinations Council officials.

The graft scheme involved inflating prices of ballot papers to cater for kickbacks dubbed ‘chicken.’

For example, Kenyan electoral officials inflated the price of each of the 14.51 million referendum ballot papers ordered in 2010 at the rate of Sh0.75 per ballot paper, translating to kickbacks totalling Pound 105,193.82 (S4.8 million), according to court papers.

IEBC chairman Issack Hassan has been directly named in court papers among senior Kenyan officials who ate ‘chicken,’ alongside members of the defunct interim electoral agency and the current elections body.

The list also includes sacked Energy secretary Davis Chirchir, former IEBC chief executive James Oswago, lawyer Kennedy Nyaundi (ex-commissioner) and Kenneth Karani (senior procurement officer), former Electoral Commission of Kenya commissioner Joseph Khamis Dena, and former Judiciary registrar Gladys Boss Shollei (who was deputy CEO at IIEC).

Source: The Nation