, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 18 – The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) says any citizen can go to court to compel President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to suspend Higher Education Minister William Ruto over the Sh96 million fraud case he is facing, should they fail to act voluntarily.
LSK Chairman Ken Akide said on Monday that the new Constitution empowers Kenyans to go to court to contest violation of the law.
“Article 258 of the new Constitution states clearly that individual citizens can institute proceedings claiming that this Constitution has been contravened or is threatened by contravention,” said Mr Akide.
Mr Akide said Chapter Six on leadership and integrity specifically sets high standards for all civil servants while the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act is clear that Mr Ruto should stand suspended until the conclusion of his trial.
Pressure has been mounting on the two principals to suspend a defiant Mr Ruto, who on Friday lost a bid to stop the multi-million shilling fraud case. On Saturday he stood firm and said the case was initiated by his political enemies.
It is alleged that Mr Ruto received the money from Kenya Pipeline Company under the pretext that he was in a position to sell land to the company in Ngong forest.
Mr Ruto was jointly charged with Berke Commercial Agencies, Joshua Kulei (retired President Moi’s former aide) and Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita over the deal estimated to have cost the taxpayer Sh272 million in total.
The Eldoret North MP moved to the High Court in 2005 seeking to stop any proceedings against him claiming that his rights were being abused. The court has since thrown out his application.
Section 62 of the Anti Corruption and Economic Crimes Act stipulates that a public officer who is charged with corruption or economic crime shall be suspended with half pay with effect from the date of charge. Mr Akide also said the Minister has the option of stepping aside honourably as the case proceeds.
“We are not saying he is guilty but we are saying he has been charged. The Constitution talks about being charged. Whether you will be innocent at the end of the court is left to you and to the court,” he added.
Two other civil society organisations separately asked the President and Prime Minister to show proof of their commitment in upholding the new Constitution and suspend Mr Ruto and Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula over corruption scandals.
Transparency International and the International Commission of Jurists argued that the onus to act rested solely on the President and Prime Minister as they were the appointing authorities.
TI- Kenya Executive Director Samuel Kimeu said that the two should not apply double standards in handling the cases but instead provide proper leadership.
“Kenyans are looking forward to a new beginning because we have a new constitution the expectation is that our leaders are going to behave differently,” he said.
Mr Kimeu added that the impunity that had in the past undermined reforms in the country should not be allowed to thrive.
“At this point, we may not be in a position to comment substantively for instance on the issue of the Foreign Affairs Minister but we could say that it’s an issue of public interest. The allegations that have come to the public are quite serious and in this new dispensation, we would like to see it firmly dealt with,” he said.