MPs want to grill Ruto aide Farouk

Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee mem­bers say DP’s as­sis­tant could pro­vide use­ful in­for­ma­tion on theft of Sh791m.

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - FELIX OLICK AND JAMES MBAKA

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

/ RE­BECCA NDUKU/DPPS

Deputy Pres­i­dent Wil­liam Ruto with Chad Pres­i­dent Idriss Deby in the Pres­i­den­tial Palace, N’Dja­mena, yes­ter­day

/ FILE

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.

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