Kisumu residents have accused the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) of failure to effectively prosecute corruption cases. On Wednesday, residents joined activists to stage a protest outside the EACC offices, accusing the anti-graft body of failing to expedite cases in its areas of jurisdiction. Blowing whistles and waving placards, the protesters staged a sit-in at the EACC regional office which handles cases from Kisumu, Siaya and Vihiga counties. Anti-riot police officers kept guard at the offices to avert any possible ugly incidents.
PUSH FOR ACTION
This was the first episode of the demonstrations dubbed "shit protests" organised by lobby groups who are up in arms against the state of affairs in the county. The protesters intend to use the demos to push for attention and action on various issues of governance and poor environment management. The protest came as the anti-graft commission complained of inadequate personnel, which it said has hampered efforts to execute its mandate efficiently.
Angry demonstrators wondered why the commission has dragged its feet in prosecuting suspects even after carrying out numerous raids and arrests. Leading the protesters who camped outside the offices within the CBD was Kondele Social Justice Centre Team leader Boniface Akach, who urged the commission's Western Regional Manager George Oira to come out and address them and issue a status report on the cases the commission is investigating in the region.
Among the cases in question include that of traffic police officers who were arrested in a sting operation by EACC sleuths, a probe on Siaya MCAs over the Uganda trip that never was, the Sh19 million procurement of Governor Anyang' Nyong'o's vehicle as well as the tendering for the building of a modern Moi Stadium.
"We seek to know what EACC came up with after conducting several raids in various offices and also be informed what is happening in other reported cases," said Mr Akach.
The protesters threatened to stage a sit-in outside the commission's premises every week until the cases are completed. "We have been coming here to give the commission reports. They have been using taxpayers' money to arrest people. It is either they take the suspects to court or release them instead of taking months with only a few cases reported," said Mr Akach.
In response to the complaints, the commission's Deputy Regional Manager Aura Chibole asked the activists to write a petition to the agency highlighting issues of concern and the cases they want expedited.
CASE ALMOST COMPLETE
And, in an interview with the Nation, the EACC manager indicated that the matter involving traffic officers is almost complete. "The investigation is active and the file is at the tail end. Once it is complete, EACC will seek the DPP's consent to charge the officers with corruption," said Mr Chibole. He also revealed that investigations into the case where Siaya MCAs pocketed allowances and per diem for a non-existent Uganda trip had borne positive results. He said investigations into the matter are still active and are almost complete.
On Governor Nyong'o's Sh19 million car probe, the EACC official said progress has been made.
"Investigations are at the financial analysis stage and, once complete, the report will be submitted to the DPP," he said.
He denied that EACC had received any report regarding alleged fraud in the tendering process in the construction of the multi-million-shilling Moi Stadium complex.
"However, there are several issues under probe on Moi Stadium. Some are before court, like the contractor who was paid before beginning work," he said.
Mr Chibole, who had to come out of his office to address the gathering, admitted that the concerns raised by the activists were valid but asked them to understand the environment that the commission is operating in. He said that as a commission, they have tried to do as much as they can with the little workforce they have, which has made it difficult to complete cases as expected.
He said that in the Kisumu office which covers three counties, there are only six investigators who, on many occasions, handle reported cases as a team.
"Each county should have at least four to six investigators for us to operate optimally, but due to lack of funds, we have to do with whatever we have and this has been a challenge," said Mr Chibole. The protesters will Thursday move to the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) offices in Kisumu to protest over poor environmental management.
They accuse Nema of failure to protect Lake Victoria, the largest water resource in the region. "We are concerned by industrial pollution of the environment and duty bearers' failure to provide sanitation services. We would like them to have a feel of how pollution stinks," he said.
Last month, a Daily Nation's series titled Toxic Flow flagged public and private institutions, including the Kisumu Water and Sanitation Company, Kodiaga Prison, Coca-Cola Bottlers, Kenya Breweries Limited and Kibos Sugar Factory as being among industries whose effluent goes into Lake Victoria.
This article was originally published on All Africa.