Awori faces House team over Anglo Leasing deals

VP Moody Awori

Vice President Moody Awori will tomorrow appear before a parliamentary committee to explain why a contract for tamper proof passports by his ministry escalated from Sh800 million to Sh2.7 billion. 

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), whose whose members returned home from London on Friday after hearing evidence on Anglo Leasing-type deals by former Ethics and Governance Permanent Secretary John Githongo, has summoned Mr Awori as its first witness. 

Letters summoning Mr Awori and other former and serving senior government officials have been sent out by the committee chaired by the Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta. 

The committee will also seek to find out why Mr Awori gave a statement in Parliament clearing the Government of any blame in the Anglo Leasing deals at a time when the Auditor and Controller General was carrying out a special audit into the transactions. 

The Auditor and Controller General's report concluded that the passport deal was imprudent. 

In the scandal, a Sh800 million contract by the Immigration Department to procure a tamper-proof passports system was inflated to Sh2.7 billion. 

When the whistle on the scandal was blown and the matter initially came up in Parliament, Mr Awori defended the deal, declaring that there was no impropriety involved.

He praised the passports project by the Anglo Leasing and Finance firm, saying it would earn the country Sh1.8 billion. 

Though Mr Awori misled Parliament he has never returned to clarify the matter and apologise. 

Mr Kerrow

The PAC will also want to find out whether the VP participated in any attempts to cover up the theft of public money by using shadowy companies in security procurement, according to committee member Billow Kerrow, the MP for Mandera Central. 

The committee will also seek answers as to why the VP convened a meeting at his home in Lavington, Nairobi, where Mr Githongo was prevailed upon to go slow on investigations into the Anglo Leasing scandal; and the specific roles each individual played in the scandals. 

Since the new evidence by Mr Githongo came out last month, two Cabinet ministers - Mr David Mwiraria and Mr Kiraitu Murungi - whose names were adversely named, have been forced to quit. 

But Mr Awori, whose name has also featured prominently in the deal, has rejected calls that he resigns. 

On the contrary, he issued a statement saying he was not guilty of any wrong doing. 

The VP blamed technical officers in the Ministry of Home Affairs, which was responsible for immigration, for any inaccuracies in the public statements he made about the passport deal. 

Immigration has since been made a full-fledged ministry. 

The PAC members will ask how the ministry could have entered into such a deal with huge financial implications without the knowledge of the minister. 

Mr Githongo points out in his dossier that he had spent one hour with former Home Affairs PS Sylvester Waliko pleading that the VP should not issue any public statement supporting the passport deal because the Auditor and Controller General could come out with contrary information. 

Mr Kerrow said they were ready for the VP now that they were armed with the details of the famous Githongo Dossier on the multi-billion corruption deals. 

Mr Awori will be the first sitting Vice President to appear before a parliamentary committee. 

Former President Daniel arap Moi, was never summoned when he misled Parliament when he was Vice President, by saying Mr J.M Kariuki was in Zambia when the MP was lying dead in the Ngong Forest in 1975. 

But an emotional Mr Moi returned to the House to apologise and correct the situation when it emerged that he did not have the correct information. 

Parliament never summoned former Vice President George Saitoti to explain the Goldenberg dealings despite numerous investigations being ordered carried out into the fictitious gold and diamond exports of 1992 and 1993. 

Even the current President Kibaki was never summoned when, as Vice President and Finance minister, he signed contracts for the Kisumu Molasses project and the Ken Ren fertiliser plant, whose machineries were imported but never functioned for long. 

After Mr Awori, the committee will also question former Cabinet ministers Chris Murungaru, Mr Mwiraria and Mr Murungi. 

Those who will not be accommodated on Tuesday would appear before the committee on Wednesday alongside the former director of public prosecutions, Mr Philip Murgor. 

Civil Service head Francis Muthaura and Central Bank Governor Andrew Mulei, are also included in the list of those to be questioned. 

Next in the queu will be former PSs Joseph Magari (Finance) and Silvester Mwaliko (Home Affairs). Mr Murungi will be questioned on  whether he tried to obstruct justice by interfering with Mr Githongo's investigations or the judiciary's independence. 

Mr Mwiraria, the former Finance minister, will be asked why he signed the controversial contracts. 

The source said Mr Githongo had told PAC during their one-week visit to the UK that the Anglo Leasing type scandals could have cost the tax-payer more than US$700 million (Sh55 billion). 

The much-publicised Anglo Leasing, the Committee was told, was just one among many scandals Mr Githongo unearthed. 

The seven-member committee returned home with audio tapes implicating some senior government officials in Anglo Leasing and other scandals and they are to be confronted with the evidence when they appear before the committee. 

The committee also transcribed the tapes but Mr Githongo is said to have remained with some to be released later. 

Mr Kenyatta

On Friday, Mr Kenyatta announced that the PAC had gathered substantial evidence to summon Mr Awori to answer questions on corruption. 

He described the evidence gathered from Mr Githongo as credible, shocking and revealing. 

Other MPs with Mr Kenyatta in London were Mr Norman Nyagah, Mr Joseph Lagat, Mr Zebedeo Opore, Mr Charles Keter, Mr Fahim Twaha and Mr Billow Kerrow. 

Reported by Mugo Njeru, David Mugonyi and Lucas Barasa 

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