, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 30 – Kenya Anti Corruption Commission (KACC) Director Justice Aaron Ringera has finally quit office bowing to public pressure.
Justice Ringera announced his decision and that of his deputy Fatuma Sichale at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon ending weeks of anticipation and anxiety at Integrity Centre, the headquarters of the Commission. Justice Ringera maintained that he still believed his re-appointment was legal and only respected pressure from Parliament, civil society and members of the public.
“The deputy Director and I have considered all the happenings and come to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of Kenya, KACC and the future of its staff as well as in own interest and families to exit,” he said in his 11 page statement.
“My learned and able Deputy and I have today tendered our resignations to the President.”
Justice Ringera said he had spent the last weeks of his time at Integrity Centre clearing all pending work and preparing the handing over. He immediately elevated the Assistant Director in charge of Operations John Mutonyi to Deputy Director and handed over the mantle to him.
The retired judge defended his tenure at the helm of the anti graft body saying: “We have discharged our mandate with honesty, integrity, courage and professionally.”
Justice Ringera said he would take two months to relax “and then plan my next course of action.”
“I am a lawyer at heart and if an opportunity arose I would be prepared to serve my country,” was his answer when asked to clarify reports that he had been promised a job in the Judiciary.
Prior to the announcement Justice Ringera had held his last staff meeting at the Commission where he assured them of their job security.
“I have taken five years to build this institution. I have lured professionals from the public sector and civil society and there is no way I could allow that to go down the drain,” he told the press conference.
President Mwai Kibaki reappointed Justice Ringera together with his two deputies, Smokin Wanjala and Fatuma Sichale for a second term storming controversy after by-passing Parliament and the advisory board as is the practice. Dr Wanjala bowed to pressure and resigned two weeks ago but Justice Ringera and Ms Sichale have stayed put.
Reports said Ringera was set to re-join the Judiciary as early as Thursday but civil Society organizations have already intimated that they will vehemently oppose such a move citing Justice Ringera’s apparent ineffectiveness at KACC coupled by the stubbornness with which he stayed on as Director despite Parliament’s annulment of his reappointment.
Justice Ringera defended his term saying the commission had recovered assets of an estimated value of Sh4.5 billion. “We have filled 398 recovery suits with an estimated value of Sh5 billion. In these asset recovery cases, 16 of the defendants are Members of Parliament,” he said.
He proposed that the commission be anchored in the Constitution and given prosecutorial powers. He also recommended that the Director be given a one time appointment of between eight to 10 years.
As news of the resignation filtered, KACC Advisory Board Chairman Okong’o Omogeni said they would meet on Thursday to advertise the now relinquished positions of Director and Assistant Directors. He said the advertisement for the positions should be concluded by Friday
“We shall give Kenyans an open opportunity to apply for the job. We are looking for people of integrity and have experience in administration and can deliver in facing out corruption, he said.
Mr Omogeni maintains that Ringera’s appointment was illegal and un-procedural and should have come much earlier to avoid the circus that surrounded it.
“Personally, if I was in the shoes of the judge it was not necessary to allow him to be subjected to all this criticism and reactions from the public.”
"His (Ringera’s) stay was become untenable because of all the controversy it had generated," Mr Omogeni said.