Delays in concluding investigations into the Sh2.7 billion tender scandal at the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and prosecution of those found most responsible is fuelling speculation about some high-level interference in the case.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) is investigating fraud related to the procurement of works at Makongeni Goods Shed yard, concrete barriers for various ports and the Kisumu port.
The DCI had submitted to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) their investigation file on November 12.
The DCI sought the prosecution of KPA Managing Director Daniel Manduku, General Manager in charge of Operations William Ruto, Senior Works Officer Anthony Muhanji, Works Officer Juma Chigulu and Principal Works Officer Bernard Nyobange, among others.
Yet the matter does not seem to have been concluded as the DCI was as late as last week interrogating the embattled Managing Director and the KPA board members.
From Mazingira House on Kiambu road, where DCI headquarters are housed, there are murmurs of frustration by a lack of action from ODPP despite having submitted their investigation file on November 12 and even sealed the loopholes that had been identified.
While the DCI feels there is sufficient evidence against the Managing Director and Mr Ruto in particular, prosecutors at ODPP have yet to be convinced. This has become a sticking point and is testing the tight professional relationship that has been there between the current DCI and ODPP directors, George Kinoti and Noordin Haji, respectively.
A DCI officer told the Sunday Nation that the evidence they already have is more than enough to convict the people involved. "We can defend what we already have," the officer said.
Shortly after handing in the file to the DPP, Mr Kinoti also suggested that he was satisfied with the work his investigators had done.
"We have done our part by completing the investigations and it is now upon the DPP to decide on the way forward," he told journalists as he refuted claims that the DCI was getting sucked into tender wars at KPA.
This comes as the embattled Dr Manduku on Friday rushed to court to stop his possible arrest, arguing that the DCI investigated offences under the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, which is outside its mandate.
"The DCI investigations against the petitioner are illegal and the subsequent recommendation to the DPP to charge him with many offences is in contravention of Section 35 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act," he argued.
But the KPA procurement matters under investigations are becoming hot as it could expose more than just the staff who have been under the radar.
Several senior political and executive figures are believed to have benefited from the tenders that are currently under investigations by the DCI. The convergence of interests means that there could be attempts to slow down the investigations.
An earlier effort at unearthing procurement irregularities in the tendering for the Sh40 billion Kipevu Oil Terminal seems to have taken a back seat as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), which was pursuing the matter, seems to have backed off.
This left only the DCI to investigate the Sh2.7 billion tenders.
The DCI started investigations in August 2019 and has camped at the KPA offices in Mombasa.
The intrigues surrounding the investigations have seen the DCI also transfer the investigations from Mombasa to Nairobi.
The DCI summoned the KPA board members to its headquarters on Kiambu road where they were interrogated over the tenders.
Meanwhile, KPA board chairman, former Chief of Defence Forces Joseph Kibwana on Saturday denied reports that he had been summoned by the DCI.
In a statement, General Kibwana said he had only rescheduled his appearance before the investigators but eventually met them after clearing the business that he was attending to.
He says he met with the investigators on Thursday while other board members were at the DCI headquarters on Monday, November 25.