Anthony Mwangi and Mathew Ndung’u @PeopleDailyKe
The august House is in the spotlight again as calls on the investigative agencies to probe bribe-taking legislators intensified yesterday.
Leading the push for the purge on rogue members—some of whom were on Thursday said to have taken as little as Sh10,000 to shoot down a joint parliamentary probe report on contraband sugar imports—was Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi, Opposition leader Raila and several MPs.
The brazen and dishonourable behaviour by MPs corroborated media highlights of rampant corruption in the corridors of Parliament, with the People Daily being the first to run an exposé to the chagrin of legislators.
And addressing a church gathering at Theta AIC in Mundooro, Gatundu South, Muturi, who has expressed his frustrations on the vice that now appears deeply embedded in an institution he presides over, backed calls for probe on allegations that are tarnishing the reputation of Parliament.
He said the rot that has been exposed by the media, and even MPs themselves, is not only a matter of discipline but is outrightly criminal, adding that only a thorough probe will unravel the extent and truth on the vice.
“The MPs exposed themselves. You did not hear it from the Speaker. I run the disciplinary committee and what has been reported is not only a matter of discipline but also a criminal offence which should be investigated by those mandated to do so,” he said.
Raila also waded into the debate and called on a multi-agency team from the security apparatus to investigate the bribery claims in the august House, which he described as the “weakest link” in the fight against graft.
“The public currently feels cheated by Parliament, which has become the weakest link in this war, with reports of money changing hands for adoption or rejection of reports. This is a major shame to the nation and deserves urgent and thorough investigation by multi-agency team from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Committee (EACC), Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI),” he said in a statement.
Earlier, Muturi had in a statement directed the National Assembly Clerk to write to members who have been quoted in sections of the media citing incidences of bribery within the precincts of Parliament to provide evidence on the issue.
He said the MPs will be invited to share their testimonies or any information they may have with the Powers and Privileges Committee, which will then review the information to ascertain the possibilities of breach of privilege by the way of unethical conduct on the part of specific members.
“The Powers and Privileges Committee will upon evaluation of the testimonies may consider inviting the competent investigatory agencies, in particular, the EACC as provided for in the Leadership and Integrity Act to conclusively handle the investigations with the view to taking necessary action against any member found culpable of this grossly unethical conduct,” said Muturi.
He vowed to decisively deal with the matter, saying he will not sit pretty as monumental allegations of corruption within Parliament garner credence.
“We will act and act decisively,” Muturi warned, adding: “This office and the House leadership, in general, take the bribery allegations within the precincts of Parliament very seriously and this must be thoroughly investigated, and appropriate action taken pursuant to provisions of relevant statutes.”
Elsewhere, Senate Minority Leader James Orengo called for the disbandment of all committees in the National Assembly, saying they had been “tainted beyond redemption”.
“We first want audit committee meetings in Parliament suspended until claims of MPs’ bribery in the sugar report are addressed and if certain members are found guilty they should get rid of them and be replaced with those whose track record is not tainted with corruption,” he said.
Last week, during a debate on a report on the toxic sugar importation, a section of MPs are said to have shared cash in the open to shoot down the report.
Members we spoke to confirmed they received cash to shoot down the report, with some getting as little as Sh10,000.
And yesterday, MPs who accompanied Muturi accused their colleagues of reducing the august House to an institution of receiving handouts to make laws.
They included Wanjiku Kibe(Gatundu North, Joshua Kutuny (Cherang’any), Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Simon King’ara(Ruiru) and Murang’a Women’s Representative Sabina Wanjiru Chege.
The legislators asked Muturi to invite anti-graft agencies to probe the matter, adding that the accused House committees have a duty to clear the air on the sugar suga.
They said both the source of the bribe and the recipients should be lawfully delt with and Kenyans told the truth.
Muturi assured them: “We are ready, set and have called for investigations to be carried out so as to clear the air on what really happened. Parliament should be respected and legislators present themselves well”.
Energy Cabinet secretary Charles Keter, however, warned against actions that cast aspersion on Parliament, saying rotten few individuals should not be used to taint the image of the entire House.