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Uhuru stresses need for unity to fight graft and terror

President Kenyatta with a delegation from Nigeria that delivered a condolence message from President Buhari. Photo/PSCU.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 19 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has underscored government’s commitment to winning the war against corruption and terrorism.

Kenyatta made the comments on Friday when he received a condolence message from President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, delivered by a delegation led by Special Envoy Prof Ibrahim Agboola, following the 14 Riverside Drive terrorist attack on Tuesday that left 21 dead.

The Head of State described corruption and terrorism as two main challenges facing Kenya and Nigeria saying winning the war against the two vices will benefit the entire continent of Africa.

“Kenya and Nigeria are affected and are in the midst of fighting the twin vices of terrorism and corruption. It will be for the benefit of the whole African continent when the fight against terrorism and the war on corruption are won in our respective countries,” he said.

An ex-military spy, Twalib Mbarak, who on Monday took over as the Chief Executive Office of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has termed corruption as the greatest undoing in Kenya’s anti-terrorism campaign saying most terrorism incidents in the country were conducted because attackers bribed to acquire national identification documents.

Mbarak is the latest addition in Kenyatta’s galaxy of intelligence officers heading critical agencies leading the charge against graft.

“When people cross the border, there’s a lot of laxity and corruption partly plays a role. Corruption in general does not only deprive the common Kenyan his/her potential of realizing their dream but corruption is a big threat to national security,” the ex-intelligence officer had told a National Assembly departmental committee during a vetting session last year.

In his inaugural address since assuming office on Monday, the new anti-corruption agency chief announced an aggressive campaign that will see ill-acquired wealth seized from corrupt individuals and returned to public coffers.
Mbarak pledged to work closely with a Multi-Agency Team (MAT) leading the war against corruption in a bid to recover stolen public funds.

“In many cases the corrupt will fight harder to protect their ill-gotten wealth from confiscation than they would to avoid imprisonment,” he observed.

“I intend to improve the capacity of the asset recovery function of EACC and to leverage on the skills in the MAT. Once the gain is seized from corrupt individuals the deterrence effect will trickle down at all levels within the citizenship,” the ex-military intelligence officer pledged.

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He warned corrupt individuals that the agency will stop at nothing in pursuit of a corruption-free nation.
“You can acquire dirty wealth but we shall come for you and we’ll make it very expensive because you’ll not have a retirement benefit from proceeds of corruption,” he cautioned.

In apparent reference to adjournment of corruption trials owing to ill-health of accused persons, Mbarak maintained corruption cases will be sustained.

“Crime does not expire. It only expires when the prosecutor walks to court and says the accused is dead,” he said.
Mbarak who took over from Halakhe Waqo whose six-year non-renewable term lapsed this month 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,” he pledged.

The EACC chief executive undertook to make used of increased allocations to the agency to ensure the war on corruption is won while working in concert with other State agencies.

“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.

During Mbarak’s installation on Monday, Chief Justice David Maraga announced the deployment of 10 additional magistrates to serve in Nairobi anti-corruption courts to facilitate timely conclusion of corruption-related cases.
Maraga said the magistrates drawn from other stations in the country will sit at Forodha House which is currently undergoing renovation.

“Because of the number of corruption cases that have been brought in Nairobi, I have already brought other (ten) magistrates from other stations to deal with these cases. The magistrates will be able to hear these cases on a day-to-day basis,” he said.

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