NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 9 – Two former senior military officers who were retired prematurely from the Kenya Defense Force last year over claims that they were involved in a questionable multi-billion-shilling arms deal have complained of delay in the release of a report by a parliamentary committee that investigated the allegations.
Major Gen (Rtd) Enock Sasia and Lieutenant Colonel (Rtd) Barnabas Rono through their lawyers Chelanga and Company Advocates are protesting that it has taken more than 15 months for the report to be released.
Lawyer Moses Chelanga has now written to the Clerk of the National Assembly demanding the immediate release of the committee’s report so that his clients would seek further redress from other agencies including the courts of law.
“Our clients appeared before the Committee in compliance with your order on the day and time appointed,” read part of the letter.
Their premature retirement was in relation to the controversial procurement of 42 AMR Parhard light armoured cars from an Israeli supplier.
Other equipment in the controversial deal included armoured personnel carrier from a South African Company, two warships from Italy and jet fighters from Jordan.
The two officers were summoned to appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations in March, 2011 to shed light on the deal.
Meanwhile, Committee chairman Adan Keynan said that they were finalising the report and will be submitting it once Parliament resumes.
The officers want the report tabled in Parliament or at least made public in pursuant to the committee’s public duty.
When the matter came up in Parliament in January 2011, Defence Minister Yussuf Haji fended off claims by the MPs that some senior military officers were forced to retire as a cover-up to corruption deals touching on procurement of military hardware.
Nyakach MP Pollyins Ochieng brought the matter to light after he filed a question by Private Notice in Parliament claiming six senior military officers were retired prematurely to conceal the shoddy procurement.
Other MPs who joined in the debate claimed the retirement was also linked to the alleged single sourcing of a South African company to procure the war ships and aircraft. Ochieng named Major Gen Enock Sasia, Brig Arthur Owuor, Col Joseph Ojwang, Lt Col Rono and Lt. Col Machasiu as those prematurely retired.
But Haji maintained the retirement was normal saying promotions as well as retirements of senior military officers are the prerogative of the President who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces. “There was no relationship between the procurement and retirement of the officers,” said the minister adding that he was not aware of any flawed procurement by Department of Defence.
In September 2010, DOD awarded the $20 million (Sh1.6 billion) deal to a South African firm, to the chagrin of four other companies that had been invited to take part in a restricted but competitive tender. The firms are Mechem Technologies, Paramount Group, Integrated Convoy Protection, all from South Africa, and Israeli’s AI Ramta.
Kilgoris MP Gideon Konchellah, who was a senior military officer before he joined politics, claimed that he had a shocking dossier to prove that DOD procurement was riddled with massive corruption. But he said he could not publicly release the dossier for security reasons.
Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo tabled a letter which he said was from the Defence Permanent Secretary Ambassador Nancy Kirui to the Defence Minister raising concerns on the procurement of equipment by the department.