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Ex-AG Senator Amos Wako banned from travelling to US over involvement in graft

Wako (pictured), currently serving a second term as Senator for Busia County, is the longest serving Attorney General in the history of an independent Kenya having served from 1991 to 2011/FILE – PPS, Uganda

NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 18 – Former Attorney General Senator Amos Wako, his wife Flora Ngaira, and son Julius, have been declared persons ineligible for entry into the United States.

The State Department in a statement published Monday banned the three from traveling to the United States citing Wako’s “involvement in significant corruption.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued the declaration under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2019 (Div. F, P.L. 116-6) and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020 (Div. A, P.L. 116-59).

“Section 7031(c) provides that, in cases where the Secretary of State has credible information that officials of foreign governments have been involved in significant corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States,” the State Department noted.

Flora and Julius were designated alongside Wako in line with a legal provision that requires the listing of immediate family members of an individual banned under Section 7031(c).

“The law also requires the Secretary of State to publicly or privately designate such officials and their immediate family members.  In addition to the designation of Mr. Wako, the Department is also publicly designating Wako’s wife, Flora Ngaira, and son, Julius Wako,” the statement published on the State Department’s website elaborated.

Pompeo described Wako’s designation as an action that will serve to send “a strong signal that the United States is a valuable partner in Kenya’s fight against corruption.”

“Economic prosperity for all Kenyans is only possible by defeating the scourge of corruption, which also requires a functional, fair, and transparent criminal justice system,” the State Department said.

Pompeo reiterated the commitment of the United States government to join Kenya’s effort to “curb and punish corruption.”

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Wako, currently serving a second term as Senator for Busia County, is the longest serving Attorney General in the history of an independent Kenya having served from 1991 to 2011.

He handed over to University of Nairobi Law School lecturer, Prof Githu Muigai, who served until 2018 before former Court of Appeal President Kihara Kariuki took over.

Wako is among 14 prominent persons among them Senator Yusuf Haji (Garissa) appointed to an advisory taskforce to review challenges impeding Kenya’s unity and fight against graft following the March 2018 political truce between President Kenyatta and his party boss, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The team christened Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is due to present its report to President Kenyatta having concluded public hearings and compilation of a report in October which could led to a constitutional referendum to among other things expand the national executive.

Monday’s ban on Wako by the State Department is the second in under a decade.

The former AG was given a similar designation in October 2009, the State Department accusing him at the time of “deliberately blocking political reforms” then christened Agenda IV in the post-2007/8 election violence.

Responding to the ban in October, Wako accused the United States of double standards.

“This is a clear case of double standards where the bigger and more competent brother is demanding more from the younger brother more that he (the bigger brother) can deliver.

Is this fair; is this justice?” he posed.

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Wako dismissed claims that he was impeding Agenda IV saying it was the responsibility of all Kenyans to support reforms under the then unity government between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

“The Attorney General of the Republic of Kenya is a prosecutor and is not an investigator and has to rely completely on the investigative arms of government who do not come under his portfolio,” he said.

Wako accused the United States of failing to cooperate with Kenya to ensure “key actors and suspects cooperate.”

He said he had no desire to visit the United States and never had such a desire in the past.

Wako was at the time facing mounting pressure to resign over inaction in the Goldenberg and Anglo-Leasing scandals under Presidents Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki.


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