No relenting in Ruto-Raila barbs as DP responds on bishop’s car claims

March 3, 2019 2:34 pm
Ruto said the car was bought by Christian leaders including President Uhuru Kenyatta and himself at the request of the Chair of Catholic MPs/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 3 – Deputy President William Ruto has dismissed claims a car gift he presented to Kisumu Catholic Archdiocese on January 12 was bought using illegally acquired monies.

Responding to remarks in a local daily attributed to his arch-rival Raila Odinga asserting that the Church had rejected the car over concerns it was funded through proceeds of graft, Ruto said the gift was bought through the contributions of Catholic lawmakers, President Uhuru Kenyatta, and himself.

Ruto rebuked Odinga for “spewing desperate lies” while accusing him of promoting an anti-Church agenda.

Odinga is quoted to have said the car presented by Ruto during the installation of Rev Philip Anyolo as the head of the Kisumu Catholic Archdiocese had been rejected as there was no clear explanation of the source of its funding.

“The Pope insisted that the vehicle be returned. We should stand for the truth,” Odinga was quoted as having said during the funeral of Daudi Owino Olak, a former chief in Ugenya, Siaya County.

Although the Kisumu Catholic Archdiocese is yet to comment on the alleged rejection of the car Ruto presented on behalf of President Kenyatta and Catholic legislators, a Mombasa-based Catholic priest and columnist had called for its rejection.

Fr Gabriel Dolan, an Irish Catholic priest-cum-rights defender had asked the Catholic Church to refuse the car gift since it was given in fanfare, a practice the Church had taken a stand against in a raft of measures it presented to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

“When the Church presented its written memorandum to BBI, it categorically said religious institutions should not accept public donations or contributions from elected or appointed political leaders or State officers that are given with fanfare and hullabaloo,” said Fr Donlan.

In its proposals to BBI on the fight against corruption, the Catholic Church had undertaken to shun public presentation of gifts from public and State officers saying such gifts should be given anonymously.

“Contributions should be anonymous like of the rest of worshippers. They are to give quietly without fanfare. What we saw in Kisumu was fanfare,” he pointed.

The spat over the car presented to Archbishop Anyolo at a public consecration ceremony Odinga attended is the latest in a sustained fight between the two leading contenders for the presidency in 2022.

The Kisumu Catholic Archdiocese is yet to comment on the alleged rejection of the car/FILE

The apparent breach of a political ceasefire inked on March 9, 2018 when Kenyatta and Odinga signed a commitment to peace after a bruising presidential election erupted on Friday after the four-time presidential contender scolded Ruto for downplaying the reported loss of Sh21 billion allocated for the construction of two dams in Elgeyo Marakwet.

“Nobody is above the law, if somebody is stealing don’t go out there and tell us that Sh7 billion is nothing, Sh7 billion is not pocket change,” the former Prime Minister said on Friday.

Ruto had Thursday dismissed reports that Sh21 billion had been lost saying only Sh7 billion had been paid for the construction of Arror and Kimwarer dams, a sum he said had been duly expended.

Ruto who was in the company of President Uhuru Kenyatta when he made the remarks termed the reports “a flat lie.”

“The money in question is about Sh7 billion and for every coin that has been paid, we have a bank guarantee. No money will be lost because we’re a responsible government; we’ve engaged every Arm of Government to ensure public resources are safe,” he said during the release of the 2017/18 State of Judiciary and Administration of Justice report.

The DP cautioned against fabrication of information in the fight against corruption saying misleading reports would only derail anti-graft efforts.

“Correct information must be used as we target the fight against corruption so that we can nail the true culprits,” Ruto said.

The National Treasury on Sunday defended Ruto’s position saying only Sh7.8 billion, being 15 per cent of the contract amount, had been disbursed as an advance payment was in line with Section 147 (1) the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act.

The Treasury said the State Law Office approved a financing agreement under which Sh12 billion was paid to secure funding for the construction of the two dams under a government-to-government arrangement.

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