Section of Rift Valley MPs laud Haji move on dams’ probe as Murkomen cries foul

July 22, 2019 (4 weeks ago) 6:45 pm
MPs Alfred Keter and Joshua Kutuny. Photo/CFM-FILE.

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 22 – A section of Members of Parliament have described the move by the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji to approve prosecutions over the dams scandal as a bold move but warned it could turn out to be a ‘publicity stunt’ if cases are not prosecuted well.

The MPs, mainly from the Rift Valley region have lauded Haji’s move that witnessed the dramatic arrest of Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich alongside his principal secretary Kamau Thugge and more than 10 other government officials.

In total, Haji said he had approve prosecutions of 28 officials over the Kimwarer and Arror dams scandal.
Marakwet East MP Kangongo Bowen in whose constituency the dams are being constructed said the move by Haji to crack the whip was long overdue and conceded that it was a great milestone in the purge on corruption.
“I hope the arrests are not a PR stunt and that members of the public will this time round see the prosecutions yield fruits,” he said.

The lawmaker, who once strongly defended CS Rotich over his role in the construction of the dams, changed his tune and called for prosecutions.

“Rotich signed quite a good number of dam projects which are about 57 and they could have been done under the same financial arrangement that were done under Kimwarer and Arror dams and I believe the rest of the dams should be investigated too,” he said.

Cherengany MP Joshua Kutuny said he was happy that they had been vindicated after condemnations by other MPs over their vocal support of the probe on the dams scandal.

“My colleagues and I were fought about this issue but I am glad that the truth has finally prevailed and now the best we can do as leaders is that the relevant investigative agencies should be given time to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

While welcoming the move, Moiben MP Silas Tiren however expressed reservations noting that the mentioned suspects might be freed by the courts if the evidence filed against them is not watertight.

“It’s so unfortunate when Kenyans cannot get value for their money. At the same time, Kenyans should not be too quick to commend the DPP, we should wait and see if their would-be convictions in the long run,” he said.

But for Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, the arrests are linked to the 2022 succession politics.
Speaking outside the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Headquarters in Nairobi, Murkomen, a key ally of Deputy President William Ruto, dismissed the whole investigation as a ‘public relations’ aimed at hoodwinking Kenyans.

“Our friends who are being charged are victims of high-stake succession politics and they are just suffering because of other political games of which they are not a part of,” Murkomen said, identifying himself as counsel for some of those in custody. Sources said he was among lawyers retained by Rotich who surrendered to the DCI soon after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji announced that he had approved his arrest alongside his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge and 26 others accused of roles in the mega scandals in which the government paid billions for projects yet to commence.

Murkomen and a section of other Rift Valley leaders have always claimed that the investigation on the dams by DCI boss George Kinoti was a ploy to stop the projects that were to be implemented in Elgeyo Marakwet, while accusing the DPP of failing to handle the matter professionally.

At the height of the investigations in March this year, Ruto too dismissed the matter while insisting that no funds were lost in the project.

“That the government has lost Sh21 billion in Kimwarer and Arror dams is a flat lie,” Ruto declared, “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.”

By late Monday, lawyers were making frantic efforts to have Rotich, his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, NEMA Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Wakhungu and more than ten other officials released on bond to appear in court on Tuesday.

“Why would they rush to arrest suspects and they can’t present them in court,” Murkomen protests outside the DCI headquarter, “it is clear that the charges they intend to bring against them are bound to fail. They have nothing against them.”

But the DPP and DCI boss Kinoti are categorical that they have a watertight case against the officials after months of investigations that took them to Italy—the headquarters of CMC di Ravenna, the broke firm contracted to construct the two dams.

“The persons we are charging today were mandated with safeguarding our public interest and deliberately breached this trust and not only bound Kenya to a loan but they ensured that the funds did not come into the consolidated fund, in effect guaranteeing that no one was oversighting its use, they broke the law on Public finance Management,” the DPP told a news conference Monday.

Haji faulted the officials for conspiring to award the contract to the Italian firm in a manner, he said, flouted proper procurement procedures, and despite financial woes that forced the company into liquidation and had led to it failing complete three other mega-dam projects.

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