NATIONALNEWS

Matiang’i off the hook in Ruaraka land probe

Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i can breathe easy — at least for now— after the Senate shot down a report  which indicted him over the Ruaraka land transaction.

The trashing of the report  also saw Education Principal secretary Belio Kipsang spared investigations into allegations that the government had bought its own land. Matiang’i was the Education CS when the  transaction took place.

The session was full of drama as senators walked out of the House immediately Deputy Speaker Kithure Kindiki called for the vote on the report of the Senate Public Accounts and Investments Committee which probed the matter.

At least 24 senators were required to vote for the motion to pass but only 15 backed it.

Following the rejection of the report, senators who voted for it accused their colleagues of having been compromised.

“The Senate is a den of corruption. Even senators who appended their signatures to the report were nowhere to be seen,” Machakos Senator Boniface Kabaka later told a press conference.

The rejection of the report means Matiang’i and Kipsang will not be subjected to investigations. The report had recommended that the duo and National Land Commission chairman Momammed Swazuri be held accountable for the loss of Sh1.5 billion.

“The CS and PS should be held responsible and further investigated, and if found culpable be prosecuted for occasioning the loss of Sh1.5 billion,” the report partly read.

Public land

It accused them of ignoring recommendations by a quality assurance and standards assessment report that established the land belonged to the public.

Drive-In Primary School and Ruaraka High School sit on the disputed 13.5-acre land, of which Nairobi businessman Francis Mburu claims ownership.

When the matter was put to vote, 19 senators out of the requisite 24 were present. Fifteen senators voted for the report while four rejected it. Kindiki declared the motion defeated.

Nairobi Senator Johnstone Sakaja was the only Jubilee member to vote for the report.

Senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), Gideon Moi (Baringo), Susan Kihika (Nakuru) and Samson Cherargey (Nandi) voted against it.

Siaya Senator James Orengo said he was shocked when senators trooped out ahead of voting, saying the tone of the debate had given him the impression that the motion would sail through.

Sacred cows

“Going by the events at the Senate, it is clear the war on corruption is not genuine. There are sacred cows in the war who must not be touched,” Orengo said.

Committee chairman Moses Kajwang’ (Homa Bay) accused his colleagues of speaking from both sides of their mouth.

“In the morning when we interrogated Health Cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki on the purchase of health equipment it was a full house. What made them to turn against a report which was probing another corruption-related matter?” posed Kajwang’.

Narok Senator Ladema ole Kina warned that winning the war on corruption would remain a mirage if elected leaders accept to be compromised.

“It is sad that we the representative of the people are more corrupt than those whom we are investigating,” said Ole Kina.

The report had recommended that Matiang’i, Kipsang and National Lands Commission chairman Momammed Swazuri be held accountable for the loss.

“The CS and PS should be held responsible and further investigated, and if found culpable be prosecuted for occasioning the loss of Sh1.5 billion in line with Article 226(5) of the Constitution,” the report partly read.

It accused them of ignoring recommendations by a quality assurance and standards assessment report that established the land belonged to the public.

Drive-In Primary School and Ruaraka High School sit on the disputed 13.5-acre land, of which Nairobi businessman Francis Mburu claims ownership.

Murkomen and Orengo had earlier urged their colleagues to support the report.

“We want the investigative agencies to do a thorough job in this matter. They should not prosecute the big fish just because they want to be seen to be working. Evidence should guide them in their investigations and prosecutions,” he said.

Orengo said: “It will be unfair for us to reject the report as senators because most of the information came from people serving Government.”

Cherargey, who voted against the report, commended the committee for a “wonderful job” saying it was now up to senators to ensure its drastic recommendations were implemented.

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