MPs want to grill Ruto aide Farouk
Public Accounts Committee members say DP’s assistant could provide useful information on theft of Sh791m.
MPs last night were discussing a possible summons to DP William Ruto’s aide Farouk Kibet in connection with the NYS scandal, despite Ruto’s insistence he not testify in the probe.
Four members of the Public Accounts Committee separately told the Star yesterday they had asked chairman Nicholas Gumbo to summon Kibet. He was mentioned in testimony on Thursday by former Devolution CS Anne Waiguru who described a web of contacts at the time of the thefts. She also said a powerful cartel was trying to get rid of her.
The committee was to conclude hearings last week with Waiguru’s appearance but some members now say Kibet has become a person of interest who can shed light on the intrigue behind the heist.
In her sworn affidavit Waiguru said Kibet received cash. On Thursday she said Kibet and prime suspect businessman Ben Gethi exchanged numerous phone calls before and during transactions in which Sh1.6 billion was stolen.
“We believe that Kibet can help the committee unravel the recipients of this cash. He is a person of interests considering that he made 150 calls to a key suspect in the days leading up the scam,” PAC member and ODM chairman John Mbadi said.
Committee member Timothy Bosire of Kitutu Masaba said Ruto’s angry reaction to Waiguru’s testimony was “interesting”, especially because the DP previously had defended her and denied the NYS had lost cash.
The main suspect in the theft of Sh1.6 billion, Josephine Kabura, declined to reveal how she distributed the NYS money she received.
However, suspect Ben Gethi is said to have given Sh1 million to Kibet. Kibet acknowledges receiving the money, but says Gethi gave him a contribution for a fundraiser Kibet was holding for a friend’s medical treatment in India.
The dramatic about-turn by Ruto on the NYS heist has portrayed the DP and his Jubilee allies as flip-flopping in the anti-graft war.
Ruto’s verbal attack on Waiguru following her testimony about Kibet — and backing by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s key allies — have also raised questions about Jubilee’s commitment to tackle runaway graft.
The government has consistently denied grave corruption within its ranks, despite the massive anti-graft purge last year that claimed five Cabinet Secretaries and 175 high-flying state officers.
Currently, the state is battling claims of enormous loss of public funds in the Sh250 billion Eurobond saga, the Sh327 billion standard gauge railway contracts and now the Sh3.2 billion ‘Mafya House’ saga.
In all cases of alleged sleaze, the government has directed its fire at opposition chief Raila Odinga for running what it terms a propaganda campaign to discredit Jubilee’s achievements for political expediency.
In August last year, for instance, Ruto openly accused Raila of malice after he called for investigations into the NYS scam.
“Because many have seen that we are targeting the core of our society, the young people of our nation, and using them as catalysts of development, they are going round, trying to create a scandal out of our youth programme, and I tell them they will not succeed,” Ruto said at the time. He strongly defending Waiguru against graft accusations. She says she was the whistle-blower on the loss of the initial Sh791 million and prevented the loss of more than Sh600 million. She faces no criminal charges.
There have been two unsuccessful impeachment motions against Waiguru, allegedly engineered by Ruto’s former Chief of Staff Marianne Kaittany. In a blunt personal attack on Waiguru, Ruto on Sunday accused the former CS — now a candidate for Nyandarua governor — of subjecting the country to “cat-walking” show business “when it’s clear public money has been lost”.
He said Waiguru was in charge when the money was stolen and should take responsibility.
“But surely, if a hairdresser [Josephine Kabura] registers 20 companies, gets [NYS] contracts, is paid millions, the millions she admittedly carried in bags and sacks like potatoes, and then you want to tell us stories... please, give us a break!” a visibly angry Ruto said.
Waiguru last week took the NYS corruption scandal to Ruto’s doorstep, naming his aide Kibet and close ally, Senator Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet) as among chief beneficiaries.
In an initial explosive affidavit, Waiguru also named Majority Leader Aden Duale and Treasury CS Henry Rotich as high-profile masterminds of the sleaze. The two, however, dismissed the claims and told Waiguru to carry her own cross.
Uhuru’s allies MPs Moses Kuria
(Gatundu South) and Maina Kamanda (Starehe) have backed Ruto in the anti-Waiguru onslaught. Kuria said they are “paying the price for believing in Waiguru’s fake innocence”.
Yesterday, ODM Secretary of Political Affairs Opiyo Wandayi said the ferocious Ruto-Waiguru exchanges resulted from an failed high-level scheme to cover up the looting and ensure Waiguru said nothing about people in high office.
“Jubilee has worked tirelessly to sweep the scandals under the carpet...Corruption has engulfed the entire Jubilee edifice and no one in the top leadership is clean,”Wandayi told the Star.
The Ugunja lawmaker also alleged the recent combat between Ruto and Waiguru could signify a power struggle between the Uhuru and Ruto axes as well as a 2022 power play.
“What we are now witnessing is simply the internal civil war in Jubilee linked to the politics of 2022. Ruto is feeling cornered by the TNA wing that is hell-bent on frustrating his presidential bid in 2022. Waiguru is not alone but just the public face of that wing,” the MP said.
ODM Treasurer Timothy Bosire wants the presidency to shoulder responsibility for Jubilee’s looting spree, faulting Ruto for shifting blame to Waiguru alone.
“The Cabinet operates under the principle of collective responsibility and the move to withdraw money from the Treasury [and allocate to NYS] was a result of a resolution by the Cabinet chaired by the President and his deputy, hence, the buck stops with the two leaders,” Bosire said.
The Kitutu Masaba MP said “deliberate contradiction” in government was intended to fool Kenyans “because they know we have narrowed down investigation on them”.
Last week, Uhuru assailed Raila, terming him backward and petty for consistently raising integrity questions about his administration’s mega projects.
SO YOU CANNOT FIGHT FRAUD BY FOCUSSING ON PEOPLE’S DESIRES OR ABILITIES. THE ONLY THING YOU CAN CONTROL IS PEOPLE’S OPPORTUNITIES TO STEAL. AND ANNE WAIGURU FAILED TO DO THAT
Deputy President William Ruto with Chad President Idriss Deby in the Presidential Palace, N’Djamena, yesterday
Deputy President Willam Ruto with Devolution CS Anne Waiguru and Sport and Culture CS Hassan Wario at an exhibition stand during the National Youth Service Convention at Kasarani on June 6, 2014.