Lawyer petitions EACC to probe alleged corruption in Taita Taveta

The Taita Taveta County headquarters at Mwatate.

A lawyer has petitioned the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate alleged corrupt dealings by six officials of the Taita Taveta County government.

Lawyer Dominic Lukorito wants the officials investigated over abuse of office for personal gain.

The petition is also copied to the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Assets Recovery Agency and the office of the Ombudsman.

Mr Lukorito wants Mr Wilfred Mwalimo (governor's assistant), Mr Edward Mwakisima (programme officer at the water department), Mr Bigvai Mwailemi (governor's political adviser), and Mr Mwachia Madeda (Moi Hospital administrator) to be charged for the crimes if found culpable.

Others are Mr Mathew Njoroge (governor's economic adviser) and Mr Edward Lenjo (roads department programme officer).

"Following the recent public outcry across social media as to the blatant abuse of office for personal gain, this is to formally invite you as constitutionally mandated bodies to commence investigations to safeguard the public interest and possibly charge them where culpable," the petition says.

The lawyer claims the officials have resorted to registering their assets in the names of their spouses and proxies to cover their tracks. 

He says that the county was lagging in development due to the embezzlement of funds meant for projects.

"Taita Taveta is among the worst-ranked counties in terms of development and billions of shillings have been siphoned therefore warranting your investigations to safeguard proper utilisation of public funds," the petition says.

He also wants the County Public Service Board, County Secretary Liverson Mghendi and the human resources department to provide public advertisements for the positions of Mr Mwakisima and Mr Lenjo, who are programme officers for the water and roads departments respectively.

"They should include minutes of meetings, their scores in interviews and their respective qualifications in consonance with the principle of competitive recruitment and the respective public service manual creating the above jobs," he says.

In his response, Mr Mwailemi said the officials were ready for investigations by any government body. 

He said the claims were instigated by political opponents ahead of next year's elections. 

"I'm ready for a lifestyle audit because I am clean. Our accounts are open for investigations," he said.  

Mr Mwailemi also denied accusations that their assets are proceeds of corruption. 

"The assets we have are open and some were acquired through loans. I had many more vehicles before than the ones I have now," he said.

Last month, the officials sued blogger Mwachere Shuma for defamation.

In the case, which is before Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Charles Ndegwa, they also want orders to push the Communications

Authority of Kenya to pull down the Kwaela News Network website.

They also want Interpol to help repatriate Mr Shuma, the owner of the website, from Europe to face the defamation charges in Kenya.