20 June 2019

Kenya: EACC Questions 15 Meru MCAs Over Punch-Up in Assembly

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) on Wednesday started questioning some Meru MCAs over a scuffle that happened during swearing in of their nominated colleague.

The MCAs reportedly exchanged blows on April 11 when Ms Secondina Kanini was expected to take her oath of office to replace Ms Lucy Waithera of the Kenya Patriots Party who had resigned.

Water bottles were hurled at Speaker John Kaberia as he entered the chambers before some MCAs struggled to gain control of the mace in a scuffle that halted various House businesses scheduled for the day.

RECORDED STATEMENTS

Seven out of the 15 MCAs summoned at the EACC regional offices in Isiolo town recorded statements Wednesday while the rest will be questioned on Thursday.

Those questioned are George Muthuri (Maua), Mr Martin Mworia (Nyaki West) and nominated MCAs Betty Kinya, Sarah Gakii, Esther Karimi and Salome Kirito.

Gerald Kimathi (Kiegoi), Moses Nturibu (Muthara), Julius Murega (Municipality), John Paul Mwongera (Igoji East) and nominated MCAs Fridah Mwendwa, Robert Kinoti, Priscilla Kariuki and Muthaura Makena will be grilled on Thursday.

NO COMMENT

EACC Upper Eastern Region Manager Kipsang Sambai declined to comment on the matter saying it was still under investigations.

Journalists were also barred from covering the event.

But Mr Sambai promised to comment on the issue after all the MCAs are questioned and ongoing investigations finalised.

Speaking outside the EACC offices, Antuambui Ward MCA Jackson Gitonga told journalists that they had been summoned to record statements on what transpired during the April incident.

"I have told the detectives what I know about the April 11 incident to help them in ongoing investigations," said Mr Gitonga before he left.

He further refuted claims that there was a brawl in the House, arguing that the members only had some minor misunderstanding "which is normal in their undertakings".

CRITERIA QUESTIONED

One of the MCAs who spoke to the Nation on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation questioned the criteria used in summoning the 15 out of the 68 MCAs who were in the House on that day.

The MCA said the summons were a plan by the Meru executive to silence members who had refused to sing to the tune of the county government.

"We have a lot of MCAs who were at the centre of the exchange but have not been summoned, making us wonder which criterion was used in selecting those to appear before the EACC," the MCA said.

DPP ADVICE

On why EACC findings are never made public, Mr Sambai said a report is normally prepared after the questioning of officers and is then forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) who then advises on whether or not to prosecute the officers involved.

"Our office... has to hold it (information) in confidence until the ODPP gives us an okay," he said.

The EACC has previously summoned MCAs from Nairobi, Kisumu, Murang'a Homa Bay and Kericho counties over allegations of gross misconduct and use of un-parliamentary language during House proceedings.

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