EACC, ODPP & Justin Muturi Gang Up Against Kenya Kwanza MP

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EACC, ODPP & Justin Muturi Gang Up Against Kenya Kwanza MP

In collaboration with other organisations, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has expressed opposition to a bill introduced by Geoffrey Kariuki Ruku, a Member of Parliament for Mbeere North, which aims to remove two corruption offences from the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

The lawmaker, affiliated with the ruling Kenya Kwanza coalition and serving his term under the Democratic Party, introduced the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

The bill aims to decriminalise certain provisions of the Act, such as the expenditure of public funds on unforeseen projects.

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Section 45 (2), which criminalises the use of public funds to pay for substandard goods, unsupplied goods, or unperformed services, is proposed to be repealed by the law.

Additionally, it renders criminal the utilisation of public funds for a project without adequate pre-planning. The lawmaker contends that administrative measures are more suitable for addressing this provision rather than resorting to criminal prosecution.

Thursday, EACC and three other organisations submitted written statements to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) of the National Assembly, where they characterised the measure as regressive, hazardous, and a setback in the fight against corruption.

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They argued that the purpose of the two sections is to ensure accountability among public officials involved in the administration of public resources and to prevent the misappropriation of public funds.

“The commission opposes the bill on the ground that decriminalising failure to follow procurement procedures undermines Article 227 of the Constitution, which provides for fairness, equity, transparency and cost-effectiveness in the procurement of public goods and services,” EACC argued.

The measure has also encountered opposition from Transparency International Kenya (TI-Kenya), the Office of the Attorney General (AG), and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).

The Justin Muturi-led Office of the Attorney General contended that the proposed revocation was in direct opposition to the anti-corruption policy of the institution.

“By removing (the sections), the proposed amendment removes procurement fraud and malpractices from the ambit of corruption and economic crimes,” Muturi wrote in documents tabled before JLAC and obtained by Kenyans.co.ke.

“As a result, officers who misappropriate public funds through procurement will not be subject to the provisions calling for the suspension of public officers charged with corruption and economic crimes.”

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Director of Public Prosecutions Renson Ingonga shared similar views, contending that the establishment of the offence was intended to shield the Kenyan government from potential legal repercussions.

“The Constitution requires public money to be used in a prudent and responsible way. The test of prudence and responsibility can only be measured against established rules and procedures which can be audited,” Ingonga posed.

The lawmaker had posited that the amendment to the Constitution enhanced efforts to combat corruption by eliminating the superfluous criminalization of procurement deficiencies, which, in his opinion, could be sufficiently addressed through administrative measures.

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EACC, ODPP & Justin Muturi Gang Up Against Kenya Kwanza MP

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