Corruption Awareness: An Uphill Task in Kenya

This article forms the second part of uphill struggle to engage Kenyan Public Officers in the War on Corruption. It is obvious that top government officers and politicians, who over the years have built their wealth through Corruption short cuts, are not interested with President Uhuru Kenyatta Fight Against Corruption – both by their lack of action and reluctance to support the president in all ministries and parastatal bodies.

Many appear to believe, like Deputy President William Ruto that “Corruption cannot stop a leader from delivering in Kenya”. Many in public leadership are busy delivering wealth unto themselves and their families without any fear of retribution – well, until they are caught.

The latest threat by Jubilee Party Secretary General Raphael Tuju will be viewed as the croaks of frogs that have never stopped cows from drinking water. Thieves in Kenya never give up until they are caught and when caught they blame their ill fortune to politics as they bay for ethnic support.

As soon as Corruption besieged Nairobi Governor Mike Kioko Mbuvi Sonko was elected I sent Corruption Awareness concept paper and copied it to his then deputy Polycap Igathe hoping they would be eager to clean up the financial drain of the capital city robbing residents of billions of shillings. None of them responded.

Sonko had been moving from one newsroom to the other with bundles of papers showing how his predecessor Evans Kidero was presiding over grand Corruption within the capital City. I thought he would be interested in plugging the financial drain and holding the corrupt within City Hall to account for the expenditure of the public resources.

There was a time Sonko was responding to my calls before he became governor particularly when he wanted to support the late John Gakuo as Governor against Kidero and Ferdinand Waititu.. I even arranged for a meeting between him and Gakuo at Serena. When he became Governor he never responded to my calls, sms or email messages let alone twitter or Facebook.

Little did I know that all the anti-corruption publicity he sought from Media houses and Churches was to divert attention from his war with City cartels the same way Mafia rival groups dismantle and eliminate each other. How else would one explain a billionaire falling victim of asking garbage collectors to channel a few millions to several of his bank accounts? Sonko let down city residents who saw him as a practical anti-corruption crusader in a big way.

Like the Kenyan nation, Nairobi County generates billions of shillings annually that find their way into private pockets. Even with the digital revenue collection City Hall is still hemorrhaging of millions of shillings every day. There is a wide mismatch between revenue collection and banked figures in a County government that has numerous Bank accounts with different signatories. Money is channeled to personal accounts from some of the County accounts without trace.

Appearing in Court last July a former County Chief Finance Officer Jimmy Kiamba could not account for his massive wealth out of Ksh 135,000 monthly pay. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) argued that Kiamba’s salary between 2009 and 2015 totalled to Ksh5.8 million and wondered how he ended up with over Ksh1 billion in cash and assets during his tenure as CFO between 2013 and 2015 – three years after Jubilee government took over.

Former Nairobi County chief finance officer Jimmy Mutuku Kiamba’s house located in Runda, Nairobi, that is being targeted for recovery by EACC. PHOTO | EACC

Among the properties the anti-graft body claimed Kiamba acquired through corruption were two maisonettes in Nairobi’s South C estate, several apartments spread across the city, a town house in Kileleshwa a palatial home in Runda and parcels of land in Nairobi, Kajiado and Machakos.

Although Lady Justice Hedwig Ong’udi found that some of the properties and cash stashed in various accounts were acquired legitimately through loans and other businesses, she singled out Ksh317,648,604 whose source Kiamba could not explain.

“My analysis of evidence proves that the EACC has established that the huge cash deposits in his accounts were proceeds of economic crimes and constitute unexplained assets which must be forfeited to the state,” the judge ruled.

Kiamba is among over 100 thieves whom the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Assets Recovery Authority are pursuing their property valued over Ksh 10 billion for recovery. They include government officials and well-connected individuals.

Early this year EACC records indicated that there were 78 cases of illegally acquired assets in court. As from 2013 to December 2018, EACC records that illegally acquired assets worth Ksh 3.6 billion were recovered.

These included land in Mombasa mainland (Ksh250 million), Mombasa island (Ksh 620 million, Ksh 107 milion and Ksh 90 million), Milimani court land (Ksh 400 million), Karatina municipality among others.

EACC Chief Executive Officer: Chasing the corrupt into their burrows

“We don’t just want to take people to court and jail them. We also want recover the properties that they have acquired through the proceeds of corruption,” EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak says.

Kiamba’s is also facing prosecution alongside former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero over conspiracy to steal millions of shillings from the County government.

Kiamba and his co-accused are facing 31 charges ranging from abuse of office, fraudulent acquisition of public property, dealing with stolen public funds, receiving kickbacks and failure to pay taxes.

Even as Kidero faced corruption charges, I wrote to Sonko nudging him to launch a visible anti-corruption campaign but my appeals fell on deaf ears. He is now sleeping on the bed he made.

The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) corruption cases did not come to me as a surprise at all. KPA has been a fertile ground for graft since time immemorial. Indeed Mombasa has and continues to be the gateway to grand corruption in Kenya. Contaminated killer foodstuffs, counterfeit goods, illegal merchandise, imports of stolen vehicles is a way of life for KPA officers, top civil servants, politicians and business community.

On August 18, 2016 I wrote a concept paper to the Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director suggesting they initiate inhouse anti-Corruption initiative. When I called to follow up I was informed the MD had forwarded my letter to the Corporate Affairs office where no action was taken. Corporate affairs officers in government and private sector institutions always say they have no budget set aside for ideas on any subject which do not promise immediate corruption cash for them. How can they budget for ideas they don’t have or intend to implement?

Indeed, that is the response I also got from Kenya’s reputedly most corrupt Office of the President Principal Secretary when I suggested an inhouse anti-Corruption inhouse programme for police. On March 24, 2016, I sent a concept paper to then Interior Minister  Joseph Nkaissery copies to the Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, Police Inspector General Joseph Boinett and then Government Spokesman Eric Kiraithe suggesting inhouse anti corruption awareness for notoriously corrupt police.

I got a response dated April 4th 2016, that said; “We appreciate the concern for your organisation on corruption levels in the country. However, we have no funds set aside for that purpose right now. We therefore are unable to meet your request.

Your efforts to improve the image and service delivery in the country are highly appreciated”

The letter was signed by M.M. Barre for Principal Secretary Interior.

Apparently a very important letter was enclosed in an envelope sealed with red wax, inside an outer envelope and sent as registered mail.

In my concept paper no amount of money was mentioned as I expected any costs would be discussed at a later stage. That ministry has never come back to me or allocated any money for inhouse anti corruption awareness. It is the same ministry that was found to have more than 5,000 ghost police officers, conveniently attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), gobbling Ksh 1.8 billion in public funds, according to President Uhuru in April this year.

Even after that Ksh 1.8 billion grand looting discovery nothing was done to the criminals behind the scam – many of them still in government. If there was any seriousness in fighting corruption in the Office of the President those behind the loss such large sum of money would have been pursued promptly and the accounting officer (Kibicho) shown the door out and better still charged for criminal and negligence charges.

However, I did not give up and on July 16 last year I sent a fresh concept paper to Interior Security Dr Fred Matiang’i on the same subject matter. That letter was never responded to. I was informed later that letter was found on Kibicho’s desk who told one of the many PAs in the ministry that the Ministry “will have nothing to do with Njururi.”

I totally cannot fathom why the fight against corruption can be reduced to the level of top government officers personal grudge against one anti-corruption crusader. The War on Corruption is a global concern and Kenya is not and will not be an isolated island that will escape the wind of change. Kibicho and those of his ilk can take that to any bank.

My message to the corrupt is simple, however high they climb, however much money and assets they amass, there will be a day for reckoning – either personally or by members of their families. I know of many that have sank to misery with their billions. Their children have committed suicide as wives die of self-inflicted illnesses. Others are slowly wasting away on wheelchairs. The skulls that house their criminal minds never turn into gold.

But above all else, they should know that they were born with NOTHING and will go to their graves or crematoriums with NOTHING!

Last word:

No amount of money is worth your good reputation.