A team from Transparency International Nigeria (CISLA) is on a four-day tour of Kenya to learn from the experiences of TI-Kenya and its partners in the government and private sectors as well as civil society in the fight against corruption. The team, led by Mr. Adesina Oke, the Legal Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), paid a courtesy call on the Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission at its headquarters at Integrity Centre, Nairobi.

Among other things, the Nigerian delegation seeks to understand how independent the Commission is, in terms of operations, budgetary allocation, political interference, co-operation with the judiciary, and asset as well as cross borders recoveries.

EACC Chair Rtd. Archbishop Eliud Wabukala with Commissioners and Top management leads talks with the visiting TI-Nigeria team at Integrity Centre Nairobi

The team met with the Commission, led by its Chairperson, Rt. Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, and Deputy Secretary Michael Mubea. Others present were Commissioners Sophia Lepuchirit (Vice Chair), Rose Mghoi M. Macharia, and Paul Gachoka. The Nigerian delegation was accompanied by Transparency International Kenya Executive Director Samuel Kimeu and consisted of selected officials from its Local Advisory Group.

Addressing the team, Mr. Mubea said: Having only 700 people to fight corruption is lack of appreciation of the magnitude of the problem; we need more people involved and am urging all Kenyans to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. He pointed out that the Commission needed double its current budgetary allocation.

Despite these challenges, the Deputy CEO said, that the Commission had performed well, averting losses of up to Kshs7.8 billion through disruptions and assets recovery. We realized a 75% conviction rate with 17 convictions out of 22 conviction cases in one year, he noted. He added that the Commission was focused on its other preventive mandate through training, public awareness and education, a role that is played by the preventive arm of the Commission.

The Commission also called for additional budget support to enable it to effectively run the institution and win the war on graft. He cited the example of Hong Kong whose budget was ten times that of Kenyas although its population of seven million was much lower than Kenyas 45 million.

Fighting corruption and enforcement of integrity is a tough job, EACC Chair Wabukala said, noting that the Commission had to engage many partners to fight the vice. For one, we also have to go to court to get judgements to recover assets, He added

EACC Chair Rtd. Archbishop Eliud Wabukala(Centre) and Vice Chair Commissioner Sophia Lepuchirit (Left) receive documents from Nigerian TI Official.

Commissioner Paul Gachoka echoed his sentiments by calling for more engagement with TI-Kenya to fight corruption and free the society, saying that both institutions had similar goals. We call for more engagement as we have a common role, he said, let us explore how we can work together on the common areas.

Commissioner Sophia Lepuchirit informed the group that EACC ensured all county governors their deputies and state officers had committed to and signed Leadership and Integrity Codes in all of the countrys 47 counties. At the national government, Commissioner Lepuchirit confirmed, the President and his Deputy had also committed to and signed the Codes. The codes are derived from the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012, which requires all public officers to uphold the provisions of Chapter Six of the Constitution, and the provisions of the Public Officer Ethics Act (No. 4 of 2003)

The Codes are signed at the point of taking the Oath of Office, or within seven days of taking the oath. The newly sworn-in Cabinet Secretaries and incoming Principal Secretaries will also be required to commit to and sign the Leadership and Integrity Codes.

TI-Kenyas Samuel Kimeu said: Fighting corruption is one of the most challenging jobs due to the environment we work in, adding that the EACC should not be castigated on inability to make progress. He noted that previous office holders had been hounded out of office. Transition rates are high, with few remaining in office till the end of their term.

Expressing concern about the rate of attrition, Mr. Kimeu noted: Fighting corruption comes at a personal cost for those taking it. Frustrations are real and we are not in a good position, but progress has been made. He added: It will take time but over time, Kenyans will begin to appreciate. We need a bit of courage to recognize and affirm that fighting corruption is the right thing to do.

The Nigerian delegation leader, Mr. Oke noted with concern that the continent was lurching under the weight of corruption. No doubt, he said, corruption will fight back, but if you have property beyond your means, you must tell us how. The whole essence of corruption is acquisition of wealth, and this is the basis of the attacks. If what you earn is not commensurate with your ill-gotten wealth, what is the source. Inheritance? Gifts?

The CISLAC Director said that Kenya and Nigeria had similar challenges in the war against graft, noting that it was essential to recognize that it was not only in Government circles that corruption occurs. The fight against corruption should be in the curriculum to reach zero tolerance of corruption. We can have synergy between TI Kenya and TI Nigeria, we have learnt something, Mr. Oke said.

The Commission assured the delegation that the EACC security of tenure is anchored in law and that the EACC Act 2012 cushions it against interference. The Commission serves a non- renewable term of six years; removal can only be through a tribunal set up by Parliament. The Commission assured the delegation that EACC had never faced interference from Parliament or Executive.

The delegation further learned that the Commission gets support from both the Judiciary as well as the Executive. EACC has seen improvement in court processes, since the Judiciary established an Anti-Corruption Division for asset recovery at the High Court. There are fewer court orders being issued and cases are speeded up.

Concurrence by DPP has been more than 90% on cases recommended for prosecution, a factor attributed to the independence of the ODDPs office and following stakeholder engagements with the offices through training and awareness workshops. Passing a vote of thanks, Commissioner Mghoi assured the group that the Commissions staff were some of the best one could find in Kenya. It is work we must do for Kenya, said Commissioner Rose. It is not the best job in the world, but we cannot afford to give up on our country, she added.

She noted that national values that are key in the promotion of ethics and the fight against corruption had been integrated into the teaching curriculum from primary school upwards. Integrity clubs had also been set up to ingrain values and ethics in learning institutions.

Posted on Friday, February 23, 2018
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