NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 4 – The National Assembly has rejected a report by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee which recommended suspended Chief-of-Staff in the Office of the Deputy President, Marianne Kitany, and four other officers to be investigated over the procurement of a private jet used by Deputy President William Ruto during 2013’s ICC shuttle diplomacy across five African nations.
Jubilee Coalition MPs ganged up to shoot down the report which wanted the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to launch a probe against Kitany, Administrative Secretary Abdullahi Mwasera, Finance Officer Paul Kamau and former procurement officials Evans Nyachio and Simon Okoth over their involvement in the hiring of the jet.
Ruto flew to Nigeria, Congo, Gabon and Ghana in May 2013, to lobby support for the deferral of the International Criminal Court cases facing him and President Uhuru Kenyatta.
President Kenyatta’s case has since collapsed.
The trip raised questions after it was claimed that it cost the taxpayer Sh100 million.
The Office of the Deputy President provided the House team with documents to prove that they paid about Sh18.5 million to the firm that hired out the jet, but claimed the Local Service Orders (LSOs) that were used in the hire of the plane mysteriously disappeared.
A special audit conducted by Auditor General Edward Ouko concluded that it was difficult to determine the ultimate value of the tour for the Kenyan taxpayer.
Ouko added that there was a deliberate attempt to exploit the haste with which the trip was arranged to use it as a cover to defraud the taxpayer.
PAC argues that the culpability emanated from Kitany’s failure to institute any investigations into the circumstances of the loss of the LSOs and Local Purchase Orders (LPOs).
“The committee found out that no single member of staff, including those bearing direct responsibility for the custody and safety of the missing documents, had been interrogated close to six months after disappearance (of the documents),” the report says.
MPs had debated the contents of the report last week and what remained was for the matter to be put to the vote by Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso who presided over the Tuesday’s sitting.
Suba MP John Mbadi and Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) questioned the motives of some of PAC members in rejecting a report they appended their signatures to before it was tabled in the House for debate, adoption or rejection.
“Why would the entire membership of the committee reject a report they appended their signature to?” Mbadi posed.
Deputy Speaker Laboso said the House is mandated to make a decision on any matter before it.
“Once a matter has been decided on by the House, we go by that. As to conscience of members of committee who sign reports and change their mind afterwards, the committee is the best place to canvass the matter. It is upon each member to vote with their conscience on any matter that comes before this House,” Laboso ruled.