Omogeni wants probe into Kenya cemetery report

March 18, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 18 – The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission advisory board now wants the Attorney General to investigate how a confidential report on the Athi River cemetery land scandal got to the media.

The chairman of the KACC advisory board Okong’o Omogeni said they were concerned at the leakage of the confidential brief, which he said was not meant for public consumption.

“To correct the regrettable incident, the Attorney General has been requested to cause thorough investigations into how the said brief found its way to the media and prosecute those found to have violated the law,” he said in a statement.

Mr Omogeni who is also the chairman of the Law Society of Kenya said a meeting held on Wednesday at Integrity Centre had taken great exception at the leakage which could jeopardise the Commission’s integrity and professionalism.

“The Commission observes strict confidentiality and handles inquiries under its investigations with utmost professionalism and respects the constitutional rights of every Kenyan,” he added in the statement sent to newsrooms.

Mr Omogeni said: “Whereas the Commission would like to share with Kenyans the state of investigations into this scandal, the issues involved are still under investigation and no public report has been released by the Commission in this regard.”

The report leaked to the media early this month, had implicated several senior government officials including Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi.

Mr Mudavadi was linked to a businessman Newton Osiemo who allegedly received Sh59 million in the deal on behalf of top government officials, but both have denied the allegations.

The report which Mr Omogeni said was not meant for the public was authored by the KACC acting director John Mutonyi and was addressed to the Secretary to the Cabinet Ambassador Francis Muthaura and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The brief wanted Mr Mudavadi investigated further over the sale.

The probe seeks to establish if the Local Government Ministry and Nairobi City Council (NCC) followed due process in purchasing the 120 acres of land in Athi River for use as a cemetery at an inflated price of Sh283 million instead of the value of Sh24 million.

A report by the Controller and Auditor General concludes that NCC officials and others at the Local Government Ministry had failed to follow the Public Procurement Procedure and even forged some tender documents in executing the deal.

Of particular concern, the KACC report states, is how senior government and city council officials colluded to inflate the purchase price to benefit themselves by dividing the monies amongst themselves.

As a result, President Mwai Kibaki ordered the suspension of nine senior officers at the Ministries of Local Government and Finance and at the City Council and called for a thorough investigation over the matter.

Those suspended include Local Government Permanent Secretary Sammy Kirui, Reuben K. Rotich (Senior Deputy Secretary), Boniface Misero (Director of Procurement) and Herman Chevera (Chief Financial Officer).

Others are Paul Ngugi (Director of Budget City Council), John Gakuo (Nairobi River Project Coordinator & Former Town Clerk), Geoffrey Katsolleh (Deputy Town Clerk), Kanyi Njambura (Director of Procurement) and Mary Ng\’ethe  (Director of Legal Affairs).

There has been intense pressure from a section of politicians and members of the civil society who have called for the suspension or resignation of Mr Mudavadi to pave way for an investigation over his alleged role in the shady transaction.

Mr Mudavadi insists he is innocent and has dared those calling for his resignation to show cause why he should quit: “Yet I am the one who blew the whistle on this issue and even wrote to the KACC to institute an investigation.”

Although he admitted that he knew Mr Osiemo he said he has never dealt with him on the cemetery issue or any other business deal.

Mr Mudavadi is among several officials who have recorded statements with detectives at the KACC over the land scandal.





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