By Calvin Osiemo
Senators through the Senate Legal Affairs Committee have raised concerns over how public officers are asked to step aside from the positions when accused of corruption and other malpractice before establishing whether the officials are guilty or not. Speaking during a meeting in which Director of Public Prosecution Keriako Tobiko was summoned by the Committee, the senators said asking the public officials to step aside is a violation of the rules of natural justice when investigations are not at an advanced stage. Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said that it is unfair for bodies entitled with digging into crimes to ask officials to step aside and only to clear them later on of the accusations against them.
“It is embarrassing when investigating agencies ask an accused person to step aside only for them to be cleared of any wrongdoing for lack of evidence. Why should public servants accused of corruption on flimsy grounds be made to step aside? Is (it) not victimization to ask the named persons to step aside, especially when cases are in the preliminary stages? This process has ruined the lives of many officers,” said Murkomen.
In response to the senators’ queries, the DPP agreed with the senators and said that cases that prove futile to sustain to prosecution as a result of lack of evidence should be dropped at an early stage. He also echoed the senators’ sentiments that all officers accused of corruption have a right to remain innocent until proven guilty.
“EACC should not launch full-fledged investigation into cases that cannot be successfully prosecuted. EACC should learn from Rtd. Justice Aaron Ringera who relied heavily on preliminary findings to decide whether to continue with a probe or drop it,” the DPP said.
The senators took issue with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision to reveal to the public and press the names of the 175 officials on the list of shame who had been accused of corruption. The list contained names of senior government officials including Cabinet Secretaries and Governors among other officials which led to some stepping aside as crimes leveled against them were being investigated.
Pressure has also been piled on Devolution Cabinet Secretary Ann Waiguru to step aside over procurement malpractice claims that are facing the National Youth Service which is under her Devolution docket. However, the DPP told the senate committee that there is no clause in the constitution of Kenya that dictates that Public officers facing crimes claims should step aside awaiting investigations.