MPs put EACC on the spot over political persecution

The EACC headquarters in Nairobi.

Integrity Centre, the EACC's headquarters in Nairobi. 

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has hit back at claims by a parliamentary committee that it was being used by forces in government to target certain individuals with investigations to settle political scores.

This came as the EACC Deputy CEO, Mr Abdi Mohamud, while appearing before the National Assembly Committee on Constitutional Oversight and Implementation (CIOC), denied the allegations, saying the commission was conducting its work in a professional manner with the necessary checks and balances.

Mr Mohamud also told the committee, chaired by Githunguri MP Ms Gathoni Wamuchomba, that the commission was investigating civil servants who used fake academic qualifications to gain employment in government with a view to recovering funds paid to them in salaries and other benefits over the past 10 years.

But even as Mr Mohamud made his case, Ms Wamuchomba and committee members Jessica Mbalu (Kibwezi East) and Gitonga Mukunji (Manyatta) put the commission on the spot, saying it had been militarised for political reasons.

The MPs said the use of force had the effect of scaring away potential whistleblowers with "critical" information on corruption that could help the commission carry out its mandate.

"Your commission has militarised the arrests and politically persecuted people. You have really degraded the people you arrest. Is this your style?" Ms Wamuchomba asked in reference to former Murang'a County governor Mwangi Wa Iria, whom she said had been humiliated.

Mr Wa Iria was arrested by EACC detectives after he refused invitations to record a statement with the commission.

President William Ruto has consistently spoken out against the use of state agencies to hunt down individuals whose views differ from those of the government of the day.

Yesterday, Ms Wamuchomba did not hesitate to remind the committee of the President's commitment.

"We wanted to understand the President's pronouncement against the weaponisation of state institutions."

Ms Mbalu noted that "the way you treat those you arrest... we are even afraid for ourselves", while Mr Mukunji said the public had lost confidence in the commission.

"If you are not politically correct, you are in trouble. Is this the same EACC we hear about? This commission must give us the Kenya we want," said Mr Mukunji.

But Mr Mohamud, who was the commission's head of investigations for more than 10 years before being appointed deputy CEO, dismissed the allegations, saying the commission had well-trained people who acted professionally.

"We try to be as civil as possible but there are isolated situations where a little bit of force is needed," Mr Mohamud said, adding, "The law allows the commissioners to supervise the commission's secretariat, including investigating officers who act unprofessionally."

Ms Wamuchomba told the commission that the use of fake academic records to gain employment in the public service has become an international menace, noting that Kenya is one of the countries in the world with the highest number of people with questionable academic records, which Mr Mohamud acknowledged as a matter under investigation.

"Cases of fake academic qualifications being used to get jobs are rampant not only in the civil service but also in the private sector. We are investigating the matter with a view to recovering the money paid to them," he said.