In a significant stride against corruption, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has successfully recovered assets valued at Ksh 23.74 billion since 2018, according to revelations made during a workshop with crime and governance journalists on Wednesday.
The EACC, which has been actively pursuing cases of corruption and land grabbing, showcased its commitment to combating graft in Kenya. The commission’s director of Field Services and Coordination, Jackson Mue, disclosed that the recovered assets were traced through compact investigative structures that have strengthened the EACC’s mandate. Mue emphasized the importance of these gains, stating that the anti-graft body is also in the process of seeking the forfeiture of assets worth Ksh 40.78 billion believed to be acquired through corrupt means.
In addition to asset recovery, the EACC claimed to have prevented a potential loss of around Ksh 30 billion during the same period. This success comes amid the challenges faced by the commission, including budgetary constraints. Mue highlighted that only 34% of the annual budget allocation is dedicated to EACC’s operations, with the majority, 66%, allocated for salaries. The commission operates with an annual funding of approximately Ksh 3.4 billion.
Despite these achievements, the EACC acknowledged persistent challenges in the fight against corruption.
Politicization of anti-graft efforts, slow judicial processes hindering the administration of justice, and the impersonation of EACC officers were cited as ongoing issues. Mue reported that the commission encounters an impersonator of an EACC officer nearly every week.
The recent success stories of the EACC include the recovery of an eight-acre land parcel with government staff quarters valued at Sh365 million in Mombasa. This property, part of a larger area valued at Sh1.2 billion, was allegedly grabbed from the Ministry of Water and its affiliate agencies by Gulf Energy and other defendants. The EACC has obtained court orders to halt any development on the property, and the matter is set to be mentioned on December 7, 2023.
The CEO of EACC, Twalib Mbarak, accompanied by Mombasa Governor Abdullswamad Nassir and other senior government officials, conducted site visits to high-value properties recovered by the commission. Over 130 active civil cases in Mombasa courts are underway, seeking to recover and return stolen public property worth over Sh. 10 billion. Mombasa County, identified among the leading counties with land-grabbing challenges, has witnessed successful recoveries, including the Hobley Estate in Buxton, valued at Sh500 million.
Further cases involve illegally acquired public land set aside for the expansion of Moi International Airport, worth Sh2.5 billion, and government houses for civil servants belonging to KRA with a market value of Sh358.5 million. The EACC has already completed the recovery of several properties, such as the Nyali/Bamburi Estate comprising six government houses valued at Sh420 million.
The commission’s investigations unveiled key players in the land-grabbing scandal in Mombasa, with Gulf Energy Limited, Francis Koome Njogu, Auron Energy Limited, and Paul Kiprotich Limo identified as primary grabbers of the Shanzu Estate. Justice Lucas Naikuni of the Environment and Land Court granted EACC orders on November 14, 2023, prohibiting the defendants from any dealings on the property.
Expanding its efforts beyond Mombasa, the EACC is pursuing cases involving public land and houses belonging to various institutions, including Kenya Airports Authority, Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, and the University of Nairobi. The commission’s proactive stance against corruption and land grabbing has earned praise, with calls for the public to report any suspicious transactions involving public land.
In a related development, Azimio leader Raila Odinga has called for comprehensive investigations into a government-to-government oil deal, urging the EACC, Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA), and the Office of the Auditor General to scrutinize the arrangement. Raila raised concerns about conflict of interest, bribery, kickbacks, and violation of procurement laws in the deal. The EACC has been urged to investigate allegations of collusion with private companies and consumer rights violations.
Raila’s dossier, presented last week, accused the Ministry of Energy of colluding with private entities to manipulate billing records strategically, resulting in inflated fuel prices. The EACC’s involvement in this high-profile investigation aligns with its commitment to rooting out corruption across various sectors.
In a separate initiative, the EACC is collaborating with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Crime Journalists Association of Kenya (CJAK) to conduct a three-day workshop for journalists. The workshop aims to strengthen the media’s role in promoting good governance and the rule of law in Kenya. Key figures, including the Head of Public Service Felix Koskei and EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak, are expected to address the workshop, emphasizing the media’s crucial role in the fight against corruption.
As the EACC continues its relentless pursuit of justice and transparency, the recovered assets and ongoing investigations demonstrate the commission’s commitment to combating corruption and securing public resources for the benefit of all Kenyans.