The government plans to take away some powers of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and vest them in the Directorate of Criminal Investigations as part of its strategy to bolster the war against corruption.
Government insiders confidentially told the Star yesterday that President Uhuru Kenyatta intends to expand the mandate of the DCI to include corruption cases that have been the mandate of EACC.
In his Mashujaa Day speech on Saturday, Uhuru announced plans to streamline the EACC and the DCI to strengthen the fight against corruption. He said, “cases against corrupt acts are being built against persons who may have thought themselves untouchable.”
He directed EACC to prepare regulations and guidelines that will enable all investigative agencies to access wealth declarations of all state and public officers.
“I have also directed actions that will reduce wastage of public funds and make government departments more accountable and efficient. I’m aware that every taxpayer’s shilling is hard earned, and that it must be translated to services that make a positive impact in the lives of our people,” Uhuru said.
Although Article 244 (b) of the Constitution gives the police power to deal with matters relating to corruption, it has largely been left to EACC as a specialist organisation.
Highly placed sources familiar with the government plans yesterday told the Star that the government had decided to hand over corruption cases to DCI chief George Kinoti who has demonstrated enterprise since he assumed office five months ago.
His appointment and that of the Director of Prosecutions Noordin Haji has given a new lease of life to the war against corruption, with several high profile officials charged.
Under the new plan, the DCI will be required to post police officers to all county offices. The officers will solely be responsible for investigating corruption-related offences.
EACC, which is currently mandated to investigate ethics and corruption-related cases, will be relegated to investigating ethical breaches in the public service.
Anti-corruption offices will be opened in all the 47 county police headquarters and headed by an officer of the rank of an Inspector and above, sources told the Star on condition of anonymity.
The decision to slice away the powers of EACC was reached in a series of high-level state meetings held since August. Insiders said EACC, which the President almost abolished in August, has failed in the fight against corruption and hence the need to bring in the DCI. The decision has also been prompted by overlaps in the investigations undertaken by the DCI and EACC.
For example, both the DCI and EACC had opened investigations into the recent case of the maize scandal which the President addressed in Kakamega and a week earlier at the Nairobi International Trade Fair.
On March 27, Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri wrote to DCI George Kinoti requesting him to investigate claims that some fraudulent traders were importing maize and selling to National Cereals and Produce Board.
Kiunjuri also asked the DCI to investigate queries about fertiliser.
Detectives from the Serious Crimes Unit began investigations into Kiunjuiri’s complaint but two weeks after the probe started, they were informed by EACC that they were conducting a similar investigation. EACC proceeded to press charges against Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe, former NCPB managing director Newton Tener and six others. Former Finance general manager Cornel Kiprotich was also charged with irregular purchase of maize amounting to Sh5.6 billion.
The officials were released on Sh3 million bail each after they denied corruption charges.
“The DCI received a complaint from the CS, where did the EACC get the complaint that they were investigating from? Such are the overlaps that we want dealt with,” a senior government official said.
EACC and DCI also clashed in the Sh4 billion Kenya pipeline scandal. Both EACC and DCI officers launched investigations into the scam leading to confusion. The two agencies did not know that the other was conducting investigations until the matter was raised during a Cabinet meeting in August.
The plan comes barely two months after EACC chiefs met with the President at State House amid fears the agency was about to be disbanded or overhauled.
Sources told newsmen that the bosses sought Uhuru’s assurance on the graft crackdown during their meeting on August 18, during which they also shared their challenges.
Our Correspondent has reliably learnt that among the issues was interference in their operations by the National Intelligence Service, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations. They briefed Uhuru on the Sh3.2 billion Ruaraka land saga in which investigators had recommended that 25 people, among them top government officials, be prosecuted over irregular payments.