MP could be lined up for racketeering charges

Rigathi Gachagua

Mathira Member of Parliament Rigathi Gachagua during an interview at his home in Nairobi on April 21, 2021.

Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The MP claims the outcome of the Kiambaa by-election prompted government to let loose the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on him. 
  • It's quite disconcerting that people in the DP's entourage have a particular propensity for falling victim to criminal – and especially anti-corruption – laws. 

It is the norm when a prominent person is arrested, he has to look for a scapegoat. In Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua's case, it is his association with Deputy President William Ruto. In this instance the DP is not quite the scapegoat.

The MP's association with him is loud and open. He's more an excuse. More specifically, the MP claims the outcome of the Kiambaa by-election prompted government to let loose the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on him. 

If I recall correctly, the DCI announced well before the Kiambaa by-election that they had completed investigations on the MP, which apparently started sometime last year. 

This newspaper reported in detail the intricate allegations facing him. Over and above everything else were possible charges of money laundering amounting to a staggering Sh12 billion. 

Then there was the complex web of deceit and scams he was alleged to have indulged in. There were accusations of irregularly trading in medical equipment with the Nyeri County government when his elder brother was governor but then fell sick and had to be flown abroad for treatment. 
The alleged trading extended to other counties. Some of the equipment was said not to work. 

Then there were allegations of using various groups, including youths, to create dummy companies that attracted government tenders but when the money was paid, it was siphoned off to accounts the MP controlled. 

It's pretty clear for a long time that the DP's corner considers the DCI just a handy instrument of the "System", deployed against those it doesn't like. Or those out of favour. 

That is quite disengenous.

Victim to criminal laws

There have been plenty of leaders, including top civil servants and governors, who have found themselves in trouble with either the DCI or the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and who show no evidence of ever having been tight with the DP. 

If anybody thinks the DCI is Rigathi's only foe, then they're mistaken. 

Last year, the Asset Recovery Agency (Ara), which is under the office of the Attorney-General, applied to have Sh200 million in three accounts the MP controlled forfeited to the State. 

The Ara insisted that its audit showed the cash in those accounts were proceeds of crime.

It's quite disconcerting that people in the DP's entourage have a particular propensity for falling victim to criminal – and especially anti-corruption – laws. 

The list ranges from very grave charges to less serious felonies. It's all out there in the public domain. 

Governor Okoth Obado is battling a murder charge. Ex-Governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi) and Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) got impeached and are facing serious corruption cases. 

Forging certificates

A former associate of the DP, Mr Paul Gicheru, has been hauled before the International Criminal Court on charges of interfering with witnesses in the ICC case facing the DP and one Joshua Sang. 

Another associate, Mr Rashid Echesa, is the main defendant in a sensational Sh39 billion military arms fraud case. 

Smaller gadflies like the garrulous Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi have been charged with forging certificates and separately with incitement and hate speech. The list goes on.

I must admit neither the DCI nor the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) have been particularly exemplary in their work. 

This is despite the high expectations from the public when the current occupants of those offices took tenure, vowing to deal a decisive blow to high-level graft. But ever since they have scored no notable successful prosecution. 

There's been little word on the progress of the Rashid Echesa arms case, or the various graft cases involving big parastatals like the Kenya Power Company, the Kenya Pipeline and the Kerio Valley Development Authority and the Treasury (i.e. the matter of the Kimwarer and Arror dams). 

Rigathi's day in court

The only notable exception was the Sirisia MP John Walukhe case that involved the National Cereals and Produce Board. But there was a weird twist when the court gave a hefty fine but no mandatory jail sentence alongside the fine. 

Meaning the MP is out on bail, doing his thing in Parliament and on weekends politicking together with the DP's minions. 

Also, the DPP did a disservice to the country when he did not name the person who appeared to have been the biggest recipient of the mega-millions heist on NCPB. 

After spending the weekend in police cells in Nairobi, Rigathi is likely to be arraigned in court tomorrow. 

By all means let him have his day in court. 

There he can prove whether indeed it's a conspiracy against him he's fighting or he's just plain corrupt. 

***

I’m not quite sure it was a great idea to hold the Tokyo Olympics when Covid-19 is still raging. Though anti-Covid protocols are tight, there are reports of a spike in infections in Tokyo, which could endanger both the residents and the athletes. 

It wouldn't be the end of the world to postpone the Games until such a time the pandemic is contained. Even if that means next year. 

I don't just blame the Japanese organisers for the hurry. The main culprit to me is the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In its eagerness to mint the billions it makes from the quadrennial Games (from TV, global marketing etc), IOC insisted on going ahead after the delay occasioned last year.

As always, the opening ceremony held at Tokyo stadium was a grand affair. Yet there was an eerie feeling to it. 

Fewer than 1,000 spectators were allowed into the 68,000-capacity stadium.

@GitauWarigi

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