NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 14 – Former military intelligence officer Twalib Mbarak on Monday assumed office as the Chief Executive Officer of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).
Following his swearing-in at a ceremony presided over by Chief Justice David Maraga at the Supreme Court, Mbarak pledged to make corruption a high-risk venture by ensuring those who irregularly acquire public funds are prosecuted and ill-acquired wealth seized.
The new CEO of the anti-graft agency promised to firmly deal with corruption, making financial crime a perilous endeavour.
“Corrupt persons thrive on volatility. They exploit it for personal gain and I am committed to make corruption a high-risk venture in this country. Kenya will be an inhospitable place for people who are corrupt,” Mbarak who replaced Halakhe Waqo whose six-year non-renewable term had come to an end having served since January 2013 pledged.
The ex-military spy said he will make used of increased allocations to the agency to ensure the war on corruption is won.
“I bring a wealth of knowledge from both law enforcement and corporate background. I appreciate that the EACC is in a good place to deliver because the silo mentality of law enforcement agencies has significantly been reduced by the multi-agency approach,” Mbarak noted.
The new EACC boss beat a dozen other shortlisted candidates secure the top job at the Integrity Centre.
He described corruption during approval hearings by the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) last year as a threat to national security.
He had told the committee on December 14 that Kenya’s capacity to firmly keep the threat of terrorism at bay would not amount to much so long as corruption continued to thrive.
“When people cross the border there’s a lot of laxity and corruption partly plays a role. When we were struck by terrorism in 1998 some of the culprits who were nabbed had valid Kenyan identification documents. These are people who could hardly even speak Kiswahili yet they acquired valid Kenyan identification documents through corruption,” Mbarak told members of JLAC at the time.
“We cannot say we have complete security by having an effective police service and military mechanism yet there’s corruption thriving in the country. People are able to sneak into the country and breach our internal security when corruption thrives,” he said.
The new EACC boss who served in the military between 1984 and 1999 before joining the National Intelligence Service until 2006 has an uphill task to restore confidence in the agency that has been seen as having been isolated by sister agencies in the anti-graft crackdown.
An end-year opinion poll last month for instance made no reference to EACC with regards to anti-corruption efforts with Haji, Kinoti listed among top performers alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta in the campaign to root out corruption.
The December 27 survey conducted by Trends and Insights For Africa (TIFA) between December 19 and 21 listed Kenyatta top in the list at 76 per cent. Haji and Kinoti followed at 69 and 65 per cent respectively.
The poll showed 53 per cent of 1,267 respondents interviewed nationwide approved efforts by the judiciary to combat corruption.
The National Police Service had an approval rating of 25 per cent in the poll which reported a +/- three per cent margin of error and a 95 per cent degree of confidence.