Board to meet over number plates scandal

Anti-Counterfeit Agency Ag Executive Director John Akoten during an interview in his office on July 17, 2014. Mr Akoten has accused some board members of orchestrating efforts to oust him. PHOTO | PHOEBE OKALL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The meeting will be the first in five months and the second this year after the board remained without a chairman following a second court challenge over the appointment of Mr Polycarp Igathe.
  • The acting anti-counterfeit chief dismissed the allegations made in the report that implicated him in the forging of number plates for his official car on Kirinyaga Road in Nairobi.

The Anti-Counterfeit Agency board will meet tomorrow over a Daily Nation exposé of a fake number plate scandal involving the agency's boss, acting Executive Director John Akoten.

The meeting will be the first in five months and the second this year after the board remained without a chairman following a second court challenge over the appointment of Mr Polycarp Igathe.

A heated email exchange among the board members, which was leaked to the Nation, sets the stage for Tuesday’s meeting. Mr Akoten has accused some board members of orchestrating efforts to oust him.

Kenya Bureau of Standards Managing Director Charles Ongwae, Consumers Federation of Kenya Secretary-General Stephen Mutoro, Kenya Association of Manufacturers Chief Executive Officer Phyllis Wakiaga, Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed and Principal Secretary Chris Kiptoo are expected to attend the session.

The emails show that the board requested two National Treasury officials and two Kenya Revenue Authority officials to attend the meeting to discuss the weighty matter in which the agency is on the spot for abetting the very vice it is meant to fight.

“Dear fellow board members, may I suggest that we convene a full board meeting ASAP to discuss these issues? We run the risk of conducting a board meeting through email. Given the weight of the matters at hand, this may not be appropriate.

By a copy of this note, I am requesting the acting CEO to convene an urgent board meeting to discuss the following: allegations and misuse of (authority’s) motor vehicle; and the way forward with respect to the appointment of a substantive CEO and CFO (chief financial officer),” says an email sent a day after the article was published.

In his response, Mr Akoten defended himself saying the article was full of malice.

He said he believes the information came from his staff, some of whom he has been trying to get rid of over corruption.

UNDER ATTACK
The acting anti-counterfeit chief dismissed the allegations made in the report that implicated him in the forging of number plates for his official car on Kirinyaga Road in Nairobi.

Despite confirming that he acted on the same report that implicated him, and suspended two drivers, he now believes the investigations team leader is corrupt and behind his woes.

“One of the officers in the committee had been recalled to Nairobi from Mombasa. There were allegations that he was involved in corrupt activities. I made the transfer to have a closer watch on him. He was bitter about the transfer.

There is strong suspicion that one board member is entertaining this officer over a cup of tea at top hotels,” claimed Mr Akoten.

Apart from his officers, whom he alleges have ganged up against him, Mr Akoten says he is being targeted by members of a “certain ethnicity” with a wide network, including the Attorney-General’s office, to bring him down.

“There is a sustained conspiracy by certain members of the society against one, who has been left vulnerable by the board. Yet the board is not taking a decisive action to protect its CEO and the chairman from the corrupt cartels.

They have now resorted to using the media to fight me when they realised their plans are not bearing fruit,” Mr Akoten wrote to the board on Wednesday last week.

The official wants the board, in its sitting, to take action against the officers he believes are behind his woes. He also wants the board to make a rejoinder in the media “and expose the cartels frustrating the board and management from concentrating on its legal mandate without interruption”.

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