The Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) has opposed calls to amend the constitution to remove the clause on collective criminal responsibility that has seen several governors implicated in graft.
Early this week, the county bosses issued a statement after a two-day retreat in Naivasha on what they want included in the recently unveiled Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
Wycliffe Oparanya, the chairman Council of Governors (CoG), said the principle of personal criminal culpability should take precedence.
However, in a statement on Friday, EACC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Twalib Mbarak, strongly opposed the proposal saying such a law or regulation would give immunity to some of the main perpetrators of corruption and economic crime hence promote impunity in the country.
“The Commission’s experience in conducting investigations has demonstrated the modus operandi of several Governors to conceal their role when engaging in corrupt conduct. This includes issuing verbal instructions to junior employees, intimidation and eventually receiving benefits through proxies, ” said Mbarak.
“Due to the foregoing, EACC will not be in support of excusing Governors from collective criminal responsibility. Corruption is a white-collar crime committed by government and business professionals. It is well planned, executed and characterized by deceit and concealment.
“Responsibility for crime has both elements of personal and collective culpability. Therefore, EACC cautions against considering the proposal by Governors to remove the element of collective criminal responsibility.”
In a statement on Tuesday, November 10, Oparanya indicated that it’s unfair for county bosses to take responsibility for crimes committed by county staffers.
“You cannot be punished for a mistake committed by somebody else,” Oparanya said.
The county chiefs made the proposal a time when a number of governors are facing graft charges over alleged massive theft and misappropriation of funds from county coffers. Most of them have been barred from office pending hearing and determination of their cases.
They include Migori’s Okoth Obado, Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu), Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Muthomi Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), Ali Korane (Garissa) and former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu.
Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’ is also facing graft charges but unlike the rest, he has not been barred from accessing county offices.
In their fresh demands, the governours want the BBI report amended to give them a free hand to pick their deputies after general elections – instead of going to the ballot with a running mate.
They want powers to hire and fire their deputies, as they do with members of County Executive Committees, given that BBI proposes DGs be given ministerial portfolios.
They are also calling for the removal of a proposal that requires them to choose deputies of the opposite gender.
The governors also want the proposal for the establishment of a Judiciary Ombudsman removed, arguing it might compromise independence of the Judiciary.