Kenya: Amos Wako Rebuts Graft Claims After U.S. Ban

20 November 2019

Former Attorney-General Amos Wako on Wednesday came out to battle his recent ban from setting foot on US soil.

Mr Wako told journalists in Nairobi that he was in the dark on reasons for the order imposed by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo despite “a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request” by his personal lawyer.

In the 2012 application, Mr Wako wanted full disclosure of the accusations that led the State Department to deny him a visa in November 2009.

EVIDENCE

Mr Wako, who is Busia senator, said he wants the US government to come clean on this latest travel ban, which includes his wife Ms Flora Ngaira and son Julius Wako.

The ban against the second-term parliamentarian was issued on November 18, 2009 over his alleged involvement in corruption and failing to prosecute those accused of the offence.

Mr Wako denied the allegations saying the US should provide the evidence that triggered the ban.

“I was baffled and perplexed when out of the blue, without any notification whatsoever or being given the fundamental right of being heard on any allegations, [the ban was issued] against me, " he told the media at the parliamentary media centre on Wednesday afternoon.

"Where has the utter commitment to the protection of human rights, the rule of law and constitutionalism gone in the US?

FIRST BAN

It is not the first time Mr Wako has been banned from the US.

On November 4, 2009, the US government revoked his visa while he served as the country’s legal advisor before his retirement on August 27, 2010, following promulgation of the Constitution.

The reason given then, Mr Wako said, was that he had engaged in corrupt actions that adversely affected the national interests of the United States.

Mr Wako says that through his advocate, he requested the US government to furnish him with the particulars of the charges but nothing has been forthcoming.

He says that in spite of numerous reminders, it took the US Department of State more than six months to respond.

“The reply was to the effect that they are unable to provide any information on our request," he said.

"OLD STORY"

The current ban is anchored on claims that Mr Wako is involved in significant corruption relating to the time he served as the country’s legal advisor.

However, Mr Wako reads mischief in all this.

“This is an old story being resuscitated for reasons best known to them. Instead of dealing with developments since the travel ban 10 years ago, one wonders why a travel ban should be issued when there is already one in place, based on the same reasons,” he said.

The senator also said that dragging his wife and son into the ban is ill-conceived and mischievous.

“My family was not involved at all when I was discharging my functions as the Attorney-General. Even if I committed the sin of corruption, which I emphatically deny, it would be my personal responsibility. My wife and son, and indeed all members of my family, should not be punished for my sins. The mention of my wife and son was in bad taste."

Nevertheless, the senator said the ban will not affect his responsibilities and his membership to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Taskforce.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga formed the team to come up with proposals to amend the Constitution through a referendum.

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