Kenyans have reportedly reacted with shock and disquiet to news that members of parliament have passed a law effectively preventing the investigation of politicians implicated in big corruption scandals. The law would prevent the Anti-corruption Agency from investigating and prosecuting crimes committed before 2003. During this period, Kenya reportedly lost over $600 million in the Goldenberg Scandal. Some political analysts say the move might have been timed to ensure that none of the prominent politicians face negative legal proceedings ahead of the December polls.
Meanwhile, the head of Kenya's anti-graft commission Aaron Ringera lambasted members of parliament Thursday for blocking a move to widen his commission’s body's powers to investigate corruption crimes committed before May 2003.
Nicholas Simani is the spokesman for Kenya’s Anti-corruption Agency. From the capital, Nairobi he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the commission is disappointed with the passing of the law.
“The law that has been passed, basically, makes it impossible for us to investigate any crimes that were committed before the year 2003. As you are very much aware, these include cases like the Goldenberg case, the Anglo-leasing cases. So we would not be able to investigate those cases anymore, including the Domo report,” Simani pointed out.
He said the chairman of the Anti-corruption agency has expressed his dissatisfaction with the new law.
“Basically, today [Aaron Ringera] made a statement and the Kenyans and the Kenya anti-corruption were not happy with the amendment that was done. But as you know very well the president basically has got to give a concern unto the amendment. So we got to wait and see what happens thereafter. Basically it renders the anti-corruption commission a toothless bulldog, whereby, we would not have the power to do the investigation that we thought we had,” he said.
Simani said the chairman of the anti-corruption commission would petition President Mwai Kibaki to decline signing the amendment into law.
“That is what the director of the Kenya anti corruption commission, Honorable Justice Aaron Ringera would try to do… we cannot tell (when he would do that). We can’t really tell you right now and once the director has gotten the opportunity to present his petition to the head of state, then we would wait and see what happens thereafter,” Simani noted.
He said the anti corruption agency would stop at nothing in pursuing the people who have been alleged to have committed acts of corruption and bring them to book.
“The anti corruption commission would continue to do its work as mandated by the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act. Until any other amendment comes in, we will still continue performing our duties. You would know very well that fighting corruption, we’ve been using the three-prong approach; prevention and public education are also crucial instruments that need to continue to be instilled into the public in terms of fighting corruption. We hope that the president would not ascent to the bill, and we will continue with the investigations. Right now, until that happens, we will continue doing our work as mandate by the act,” he said.