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Ongeri scoffs at Raila sack call

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 5 – Education Minister Sam Ongeri on Friday expressed outrage over what he termed as a personal attack by Prime Minister Raila Odinga who called for his resignation over a funds scandal.

Addressing journalists at his Jogoo House office, Prof Ongeri described the Prime Minister’s demand for him and Prof Karega Mutahi to step aside as a witch-hunt.

“If indeed this is the view from that office, I wish to state that it is unfortunate, because it emanates from lack of information on the free primary education fund,” Prof Ongeri said.

Speaking at meeting for senior government officials convened by President Mwai Kibaki, the premier had asked the President to demand the resignation of the Education Minister and his Permanent Secretary Professor Karega Mutahi.

“In accordance with this principle of institutional accountability, I have recommended the President to direct the Minister for Education and the Permanent Secretary to step down,” said the PM.

Prof Ongeri instead described those demands as a witch-hunt.

According to him, calls for his resignation are part of “a scheme” hatched in 2009 to tarnish his political career and get him out of office.

“It is now patently clear that such a scheme has matured and come to the surface,” he said.

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Amidst all the calls for heads to roll at the ministry, President Kibaki has remained mum over the matter.

Prof Ongeri and Prof Mutahi have been men under fire ever since information of misappropriation of Free Primary Education funds emerged in December.

Since then, the United Kingdom suspended funding to Kenya’s Free Primary Education Programme following the loss. Details of yet another swindle involving the possible loss of textbooks worth Sh1.4 billion have made the scam messier.

Prof Ongeri reiterated he is not under any investigation by the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission and has no reason to resign.

“I am not under any investigation whatsoever, the insinuation appearing in the media is aimed at injuring my personal character,” he said.

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