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Thursday, September 13th, 2018

 

Scrap projects and cut down on debt, clerics tell Uhuru

By PATRICK LANG’AT
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Religious leaders and a section of civil society on Thursday rebuked the government over the mounting debt and the mismanagement of the economy and demanded the shelving of big infrastructure projects.

Eight years after a new constitution, the clerics returned to Ufungamano House pushing for an office of executive prime minister and reduction of the number of MPs.

With the country already saddled with a debt of Sh5 trillion, and as the borrowing appetite continues, the religious leaders now want the government to suspend the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi express highway, to be funded with loans from the US, and the second phase of the Standard Gauge Railway, which is to be built with Chinese debt.

“We are very concerned that our borrowing has hit the roof, and we are not totally convinced that what we borrowed has gone to development, because of endemic corruption.

“So today we ask: Do we have a limitless capacity of carrying debt? Or should we as a nation cut according to our cloth?” Canon Peter Karanja of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) asked.

FOREIGN DEBT

Speaking under the Dialogue Reference Group, the leaders said the proposed 466-kilometre, six-lane Mombasa-Nairobi expressway expected to cost Sh450 billion, and the Sh380 billion extension of the SGR from Naivasha to Malaba will sink Kenya further in debt at a time, they said, the country could no longer take more.

The three-day national dialogue conference was chaired by Archbishop Martin Kivuva of the Catholic Diocese of Mombasa — and echoes similar initiatives in the 1990s when the religious groups helped reshape the current Constitution.

Statistics from Treasury show that Kenya’s outstanding foreign debt stood at Sh2.563 trillion as at the end of February, with domestic debt standing at Sh2.448 trillion as at May this year, a total of Sh5.011 trillion.

The proposed building of the expressway has become a diplomatic issue with the US hoping to lend the money for the project as part of a turf war with China. During the recent visit by President Kenyatta to the White House, he promised to have the matter concluded soon.

SUSPEND MASSIVE PROJECTS

But the religious leaders say the expressway was not a priority since Mombasa and Nairobi are linked by the multibillion SGR.

They said the government should instead focus more on increasing the use of the railway line “to make it worth the colossal investment made to build it”.

Last weekend, Deputy President William Ruto dismissed critics and said that the country’s debts are still within manageable levels — dashing hopes of critics who would like the country to stop the incessant borrowing.

“The country is broke and cannot even feed its own people,” the religious and civil society leaders claimed yesterday while asking the government to suspend the Naivasha-Malaba extension of the SGR.

Pundits, worldwide, have criticised China for using debt to increase its footprint in emerging economies in what has been christened as “debt-trap diplomacy” or “debt colonialism”.

“Kenya must avoid recolonisation through debt as has been witnessed in other countries,” the Kenyan leaders warned.

AUDIT DEBTS

With some of the projects already riddled with corruption, the group also called for an independent audit of the national debts to establish who is owed, how much is owed, the terms of the debts, purposes for which the money was borrowed, and if the debts were invested for the purposes they were intended.

“If Parliament does not commence this process within six months or if it is not undertaken fully and satisfactorily, the Dialogue Reference Group will set up a people’s national debt audit task force to undertake the assignment,” they said in a joint statement.

The group also called for a stop of the levy on petroleum products, saying the focus should be on reduction of wastage, and the wage bill, rather than taxation.

As another cost-cutting measure, the group also proposed that all public officers and state officials should only receive health services from public health facilities.

NATIONAL BUDGET

In addition to NCCK, groups represented in the forum included the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, the Hindu Council of Kenya, and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, among others.

“The National Assembly must forthwith use its powers to ensure that Treasury prepares a balanced budget based on our national income to stop the trend of borrowing to cover deficits,” the group said.

In what appears to be a move towards Constitutional amendment, the group has proposed the reduction of constituencies from the current 290 to 150, resulting in the creation of a 209-member National Assembly, down from 347, with 47 woman representatives, and 12 nominated.

It was at Ufungamano House that religious leaders and civil society helped push for the new Constitution.

But while they want the number of MPs reduced, the leaders want the creation of the position of an executive prime minister and two deputies, as well as the creation of the office of the leader of opposition in the National Assembly and the Senate to be taken by the runners-up in the presidential election, and their running mate, respectively.


How new reforms will affect police officers

By STELLA CHERONO
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The changes in the command structure of the National Police Service will strip some senior police officers of their powers at the regional, county and station level.

Initially, the three arms of the National Police Service, the Kenya Police Service (KPS), the Administration Police Service (APS) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), each had independent commanders at every level.

But with the new changes announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday, regionals commanders of APS, KPS, DCI will no longer exist.

Other posts that have scrapped are county commanders of KPS, APS, DCI, sub-county commanders of APS and DCI.

KPS officer commanding police divisions (OCPDs), APs commanders for district and wards will also no longer exist.

REDEPLOYMENT

The police will receive orders from a regional police commander (RPC), a county police commander (CPC), a sub-county police commander (SPC), an officer commanding police station (OCS) who will also be known as a ward commander.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, who denied claims that the APS was being scrapped, said all the officers holding previous positions will be redeployed or assigned other duties as staff officers.

“The officers will maintain their ranks and will be deployed to perform other duties within the National Police Service,” Dr Matiang’i said.

In the new changes, the police geographic and operational boundaries will be aligned with current administrative boundaries to deliver a unified command organised removing the current police divisions, headed by the OCPD.

The OCPD commands the police divisions, which comprises of several police stations under the command of an OCS.

Under the new structure, the OCS will be in charge of the police station and its posts and patrol bases.

Dr Matiang’i said police officers will be trained afresh to address the new expectations.

Only officers who were among the last two cohorts to graduate from the police training colleges will be spared of the refresher trainings, because they are being trained under the new police curriculum.

With the new changes, the government says it will have a unified, effective and efficient police service because the commands will flow faster and do not have to pass through many levels.

“This also consolidates the resources that we have because the cars that were used by the commanders at different levels will now be available for patrols and other operations,” Dr Matiang’í said.

While announcing the radical changes, President Kenyatta said the police force will grant Kenya “a new service”.

Besides, the command structure, the changes also touch on uniform, housing and training.


Terrorism remains Kenya's top security threat

By WALTER MENYA
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By all accounts, 2017 was a period of intense electioneering, amid rising ethnic and political tensions.

But while the country went through these security threats and remained largely stable, the everyday threats to Kenya’s national security and development remain alive.

During an induction workshop for newly-elected MPs in September 2017, National Intelligence Service (NIS) Deputy Assistant Director Alexander Muteshi noted that terrorism poses the greatest threat to the country.

“What makes the threats dangerous is that they target churches, malls, schools and other public places. But the success against this is the multi-agency approach we have adopted to deal with them,” Mr Muteshi said.

The threats, he said, are carried out by terrorist organisations like Al-Shabaab, which has cells in neighbouring Somalia, and the Islamic State, which operates in Puntland, Libya, Syria and Iraq.

While the country has gone through a relatively quiet period since the May Mandera quarry attacks targeting the non-locals, Al-Shabaab remains an existential threat and has lately been focusing its activities at the Coast and in the northern frontier districts.

Therefore, even as President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the transformation path for the National Police Service, the threat of terrorism, among other security challenges, was alive in the minds of the officials gathered at the Kenya School of Government, where the 2018 National Security Conference is taking place.

“You will agree with me (that) security underpins any nation’s ability to achieve sustained social and economic development,” President Kenyatta said as he launched the conference on Thursday.

Security analyst George Musamali says that besides Shabaab, “which has been with us for quite some time now”, the other challenges — the country’s porous borders and banditry.

The two factors featured prominently in the president’s speech. Under the reforms, the Deputy Inspector-General, Administration Police Service (APS) “will focus on protective and border Security, as well as combating cattle rusting and banditry”, the president said.

Also, the Rural Border Patrol Unit has been renamed the Border Police Unit, and its strength will be doubled to 6,000 officers.


Sentrim Hotel up for sale

By BRIAN NGUGI
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The Sentrim Hotel portfolio associated with a Kenyan-Indian billionaire investor has been put up for sale.

The portfolio comprising eight hotels could go for tens of billions of shillings according to estimates by the Nation.

It could not immediately be established why Sentrim had put its estate on sale. The firm has contracted property manager Knight Frank to oversee the process.

The eight hotels operated by Sentrim are in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Tsavo, Samburu, Maasai Mara, and Amboseli.

“Knight Frank has been exclusively instructed to present for sale the entire Sentrim portfolio comprising three unique prime city investment and redevelopment properties and five excellently located lodge/tented camp properties,” Knight Frank said in an advertisement posted in newspapers on Thursday.

The assets will potentially be sold together or separately, Knight Frank added.

“The portfolio is offered for sale as a whole or as individual assets by way of informal tender at a date to be confirmed.”

The portfolio includes the 680 Hotel located at the Nairobi Central Business District, Boulevard Hotel on the fringes of the central business district along Harry Thuku Road, Castle Royal Hotel situated in Mombasa on Moi Avenue, and Elementaita Lodge on the shores of Lake Elementaita.

Others are Samburu Lodge in Samburu National Reserve in Northern Kenya, Sentrim Tsavo located in Tsavo East National Park, Sentrim Mara located in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Sentrim Amboseli located in the Amboseli National Park and Sentrim Samburu located in Samburu National Reserve.

The eight hotels boast of over 350 rooms in form of tents, cottages, and hotel units. They are situated on over 130 acres.

The hotels are likely to attract several potential buyers, including high-net-worth investors, as well as hospitality groups that are active in the country’s tourism market.

There has been a string of heavy investments by leading luxury hotels in Kenya recently.

LUXURY HOTELS

The list includes global brands such as Accor Hotels, Hilton, Carlson Rezidor, and Acacia Premier. Nineteen hotels are also expected to come to Kenya shortly, with a total of 3,453 new rooms in the pipeline, according to a report by Lagos-based consultancy W-Hospitality Group.

Hotel chains in Kenya are increasingly facing pressure from ultra-affluent clients who demand special service.

Kenya and South Africa are tipped as the next continental hotspots in luxury hotel investment.

A report released at the World Travel Market conference held in London between November 6 and 8 last year said the investment would be underwritten by continued flow of top-dollar clients to the region.

“South Africa and Kenya are expected to register strong growth in luxury hotels as Sub-Saharan Africa continues to be popular with luxury travellers,” Euromonitor International’s Top 100 Cities Destination Ranking 2017 report said.


Police officers to perform duties better in shake-up

By STELLA CHERONO
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You will soon have police officers as neighbours following a change of policy in the National Police Service, which will see the abolition of mandatory and free housing for junior officers.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday directed the National Treasury to initiate the termination of all leases with landlords of police estates as the government plans to start paying housing allowances to the officers.

Officers will have to pay rent and service their utilities like any other tenant under the landlord agreement when they start to get their house allowances.

Similarly, the government will demolish dilapidated houses in police lines and officers who will occupy houses constructed under the police housing project will pay rent.

“All officers in shared houses, or those housed in structures in police lines, shall vacate them within 90 days of the date of the allowances, and integrate themselves in their communities and neighbourhoods. Separate shift quarters for male and female officers on duty and those on standby for duty will be provided,” President Kenyatta announced.

Officers’ allowances will commensurate the market rates and ranks, but this will be implemented after thorough consultations with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the Treasury and other stakeholders.

HOUSE ALLOWANCE

Under the new arrangement, the lowest ranking police office, a constable working in Nairobi, will receive a house allowance of Sh18,124 per month.

Those living in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Meru and Uasin Gishu will receive Sh13,124 to pay for their rent. The rest in the remaining counties will receive Sh8,124.

President Kenyatta announced the new plan during a national security conference at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete.

The changes are part of the reforms put in place following his directive to Inspector General Joseph Boinnet and Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to come up with new strategies.

Apart from changes in the police housing, the President announced the integration of some functions of the National Police Service (NPS) and the Administration Police Service. He also abolished some of the senior command positions in the two services.

The President directed Dr Matiang’í and Mr Boinnet to eliminate duplication in reporting functions to reorganise the police service command structure in conformity with NPS Act 2011.

DUPLICATION OF ROLES

The deputy inspector general in-charge of Kenya Police Service will now focus on public safety and security while his Administration Police service counterpart will focus on protective and border security, as well as combating cattle rusting and banditry.

The function of the Director of Criminal Investigations remains unchanged, that is, focusing on criminal investigations.

The President also eliminated duplication by integrating 39,680 Kenya Police officers and 24,572 Administration Police officers to form the General-Duty Police Officers under the command of the Deputy Inspector-General, Kenya Police Service.

“This will leave us a total of 64,252 general-duty police. Given the unified command we can expect better security for Kenyans,” President Kenyatta said.

He directed refresher training offered to all new general-duty police officers to instil a common understanding of work.

UNITS CONSOLIDATED

They will also have new uniforms; deep blue for work, navy blue ceremonial outfit and a deep blue working dress jacket.

The President also changed the Rural Border Patrol Unit to the Border Police Unit, and doubled its officers to 6,000 officers. These officers will work under the command of the APS Deputy Inspector-General.

“To enhance protection of critical national infrastructure and support national government functions, the Security of Government Buildings Units (SGB) and Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (CIPU) units will be integrated, and their strength raised from 4,773 to 8,280 officers under the command of the Deputy Inspector-General, APS,” the President said.

The Kenya Police Service Anti-Stock Theft Units, and the Administration Police Stock Theft Prevention Units have also been integrated, and their number raised to 5,000. They will work under the command of Deputy Inspector-General, APS.

The Head of State also scrapped a total of 12 senior positions both in the APS and KPS, introducing just four positions in the command structure. All police ward, posts and outposts formerly under APS shall fall under General Duty (GD) Police

SERVICE STREAMLINED

He removed the position of the APS Regional Commander, KPS Regional Commander, DCI Regional Commander, County Coordinating Commander, KPS County Commander, APS County Commander; DCI County Commander, APS Sub County Commander, DCI Sub County Commander, KPS Officer Commanding Police Divisions; District Administration Police Commander and the APS ward commander.

The President further announced the alignment of the current administrative boundaries to deliver a unified command, which will be headed by one regional police commander, one county police commander and a sub county police commander and officer commanding police Station who will also be known as a ward commander.

He will be in-charge of the police station and its posts and patrol bases.

“The comprehensive changes we are ushering today are meant to deepen the transformation of the police, and, indeed, our overall national security,” said the president.


Discarded bombs kill and maim Isiolo locals

By VIVIAN JEBET
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What had started as just bad day for John Ndung’u after being sent away from school for arriving late turned tragic when an explosive device belonging to a scrap metal dealer who had visited his home exploded.

His father and the scrap metal dealer died on the spot while Ngung’u was left with painful scars that have affected his education.

The 19-year-old teenager recounts how, on the fateful day in 2010, he woke up, took breakfast and bid his father, mother and siblings’ good bye and rushed to school since he was late. By then he was a standard four pupil at Elsa Ntirim Primary School.

The family lived in Elsa Ntirim, a village in Isiolo which borders Meru County.

The boy, the seventh born in a family of nine, while at school, was sent back home since he was late.

“I then rushed back home after I was sent back for arriving a bit late,” he recalls.

He did not know that would be the last time he saw his father alive.

SCRAP METAL TRADE

When he got home at around 9am, Ndung’u found a scrap metal dealer in their compound. He wanted to buy scrap metals. His father, mother and four siblings were outside.

The innocent scrap dealer was carrying some scrap items, one of which was an explosive. He might have collected it from the nearby military training ground, probably left behind by soldiers from the School of Infantry (SOI) in Burat ward, Isiolo County.

His mother had gone to their store to collect some metallic containers for sale.

“The dealer innocently hit one of the metals he had collected, and it exploded. I blacked out,” the 19-year-old recalls.

His father and the scrap metal dealer died on the spot. The explosion prompted the soldiers, whose camp is nearby, to rush to the scene. According to Ms Nyaruai, they collected the pieces of the explosive and left without a word.

HOSPITALISED

Her mother rushed him to hospital and, days later, she buried her beloved husband in their compound.

Ndung’u, now a form one student at Tumbori Secondary School in Meru County, was hospitalised at Isiolo Referral Hospital and was in a comma for two months.

Ms Ann Nyaruai, his mother, 64, insists that Ndung’u, then aged 10, was a very energetic and determined boy who had bought himself two rabbits which multiplied to 150.

From the day of the explosion, Ndungu’s life changed. His health was affected and he is still suffering 10 years down the line.

He woke up from the two-month comma and stayed in the hospital for a while. The family had not broken news that his father had died. After being discharged from the hospital and shortly after arriving home, he spotted a grave in their compound.

“That is when I gathered courage and told my son that his father had died from the explosion. He was devastated,” said his mother.

COMPENSATION

Now, the 19-year-old says he is still psychologically traumatised. He sometimes misses school due to lack of fees and poor health.

He suffers from fatigue, chest and limb pains. He is also unable to walk for long distances.

“There are times when I stay at home for two weeks, missing school because I’m sick. But I thank God I survived the explosion,” he adds.

The family now wants the government to intervene and help Ndung’u get necessary treatment to remove the remaining metallic substances in his body. They also want to be compensated.

Ms Nyaruai’s effort to seek redress from military officials at the camp proved futile. She claims she was chased away by soldiers manning the gate when she went to ask help from the army to settle her son’s hospital bill.

“The area is a food basket for Isiolo town. A majority of residents are farmers who are often disrupted by the military activities,” Ms Nyaruai said.

VICTIMS OF BOMBS

Several people have died, acquired permanent disabilities, been injured, suffered burns, developed hearing problems while others have been left with scars after unknowingly touching, playing with, carrying or hitting uncollected military ordnances in the area.

The ordnance abandoned by soldiers not only ruined Ndung’u’s dream of becoming a doctor but has also caused misery to many families in Kakili, Maili Saba, Maili Tano, BBC and Elsa Ntirim areas.

Ms Monica Athbital, a mother of four, vividly recalls how her life changed for the worse.

When she moved to Kakili village years ago, she hoped to make a decent living by engaging in farming since the area is very fertile.

Apart from farming, she occasionally engages in charcoal burning to fend for her young family since she is the sole bread winner after her husband deserted them.

One day, while she was fetching firewood at a nearby thicket, she claimed to have heard a gunshot and a bullet buzzed close by, missing her by luck.

HEARING PROBLEM

While she was trying to contemplate what happened, she heard a second gunshot.

She next woke up at Isiolo Referral Hospital after a Good Samaritan intervened. A skull X-Ray revealed that a bullet had lodged in her skull.

She was later operated and the bullet removed, but she developed a hearing problem till date.

Mr Ibrahim Hussien, another victim, sustained injuries on his hand, legs and his private parts after a scrap metal dealer unknowingly sold him a bomb, which detonated as he went on with his daily activity as a blacksmith.

Mr Hussein decried the government’s failure to compensate victims, saying nobody seems to pay much attention despite cases of death being reported.

He said the army does not even cater for treatment.

MILITARY DENIES CLAIMS

There is also a tug-of-war over encroachment between the military and locals, with both factions claiming ownership.

But SOI Commandant John Warioba denied claims of military abandoning live explosives, saying soldiers do not fire bombs while training in the area but only fire small arms (rifles).

“When we want to do firing of bombs, we go far to Lalesoro, Samburu County; we don’t do any firing of high trajectory weapons. We have nothing to do with their allegations,” said the commandant.

He also maintained that no victim had complained or reported the matter to the military base.

On alleged encroachment, Mr Warioba said the military has clear boundaries with title deeds to prove ownership, adding that the matter is being handled by the National Land Commission (NLC).

“We have had two sittings with NLC on the same and they are yet to finalise on the issue, I cannot comment more,” the military official said.

ENCROACHMENT

Isiolo Governor Mohamed Kuti said there is need to have a thorough enclosure and relocate the military bases in Isiolo to isolated areas since the town is rapidly growing.

Dr Kuti held that there is tension between communities and the military since they are expanding their land and some bases are even claiming areas very close to the growing town.

“We have heard explosions, people maimed, serious injuries and people losing their limbs in areas where the military practices with live explosives and bullets. There is an urgent need to address the issue of explosives abandoned by both our army and the British army,” Mr Kuti said.


Building of Dongo Kundu free port set to begin

By KAZUNGU SAMUEL
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Construction of the first berth of the Sh30 billion Dongo Kundu free port and economic zone is set to start, giving employment hopes to hundreds of youths who have lost transportation jobs to the Standard Gauge Railway.

Kenya Ports Authority managing director Daniel Manduku said the project’s feasibility study by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is about to be concluded.

“In conjunction with the Trade and Industrialisation ministry, we have identified 3,000 acres owned by KPA where we shall develop a Free Economic Zone.

“Soon we shall launch the construction of the first berth of Dongo Kundu port which will be connected to the second phase of the Sh30 billion Dongo Kundu bypass,” he said on the sidelines of the International Association of Maritime Economists conference in Mombasa.

EMPLOYMENT

The project will create more than 1,000 direct jobs and at least 2,000 indirectly, he added.

“The project among other initiatives will create thousands of jobs, set up about 1,000 light industries and spur growth in the port city of Mombasa,” Dr Manduku said, adding that he expected the port to handle increased local exports.

“In developing the Special Economic Zones, we shall be encouraging the private sector to set up industries. The targeted area is enough to accommodate about 1,000 of them. Those who have been lamenting that they are losing the port business because most of the goods are destined for Nairobi can now think of investing in the Dongo Kundu Free trade project so that they can also benefit,” he said.

The free trade zones will have conferencing facilities to tap into the hospitality sector, according to KPA’s head of corporate development and strategy Martin Mutuku.

“The construction of berth one at Dongo Kundu port is what we shall begin with before the other projects come into force. The Trade and Industrialisation ministry will carry out the rest of the projects. They will deal with the water connection from Mwache dam and also be in charge of the power and electricity connection to the project,” he said.

ROAD CONSTRUCTION

Mr Mutuku added that the ministry through the Special Economic Zones Authority will oversee the establishment of the industrial park and that the port would operate like the Dubai Free Port, where traders bring in their cargo, repackage and export it.

The project also includes construction of a 19-kilometre road and bridge project to open up the South Coast by removing dependence on the Likoni ferry.

The building of the road dubbed second phase of Dongo Kundu bypass is awaiting approval from the Attorney General’s office, although President Kenyatta had earlier indicated work was to start in August.

President Kenyatta opened the first phase of the Sh11 billion Dongo Kundu bypass two months ago.

The special economic zone is part of Vision 2030 aimed at creating more jobs in the region.

The project will also have tourism parks, enterprise areas and a natural gas power plant among other things.

Other amenities to be built under the special economic zone are: free port, trade zones, industrial parks, meetings and conference areas, service areas, power transmission lines, residential units, Mombasa Southern Bypass road and a utility area.


Bank chiefs to be held accountable over NYS money

By BRIAN NGUGI
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Chief executives and employees of banks who helped ship out billions of shillings from the National Youth Service (NYS) will be arrested and prosecuted, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has said.

The announcement comes a day after the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) fined five commercial banks a total of Sh392.5 million in connection with the theft of funds at the NYS.

“Those implicated will be prosecuted,” Mr Noordin told the Daily Nation in an interview on Thursday.

The law requires all financial institutions including banks, insurance companies and Saccos to file with the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC) daily reports on transactions above Sh1 million and those deemed suspect.

STIFF PENALTIES

Bank executives and persons who are convicted for handling illicit cash face a Sh1 million fine and a three-year jail term, while institutions including banks, credit unions facilitating such deals could be fined up to Sh20 million upon conviction. Banks could also lose their licences.

CBK earlier Wednesday said the findings of its investigations had been passed onto investigators to assess whether they would bring any charges.

Those penalised are KCB Group (Sh149.5 million), Equity Bank (Sh89.5 million), Standard Chartered Bank-Kenya (ShSh77.5 million), Diamond Trust Bank (Sh56 million) and Co-operative Bank of Kenya (Sh20 million).

“The second phase of the investigations will involve use of these findings by other investigators, inter alia, assessment of criminal culpability by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP),” CBK said in its statement. The CBK also said more banks would be investigated.

MONEY LAUNDERING

On Thursday, several commercial banks heads and boards were understood to have convened crisis meetings to assess their compliance levels with anti-money laundering guidelines as panic spread after the CBK announcement.

Kenya has 42 banks including those under liquidation and receivership. This came as more questions emerged on the criteria CBK used to penalise the five banks.

Spotlight also shifted on several other lenders which were used to make fraudulent payments in the first mega scandal at the youth agency.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had earlier ordered unprecedented tough new sanctions against individuals and institutions who flout anti-money laundering laws.

The penalties included loss of licence for banks found culpable. In his address to the nation from State House Nairobi in October 2015, where he outlined the measures to re-invigorate the war on corruption, President Kenyatta said:

“I have met with the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya and with the Head of the Financial Reporting Centre to discuss and agree with them how we can ensure the banking system is not used to launder the proceeds of theft and fraud. From today those banks that break our anti-money laundering laws and regulations will, at a minimum, lose their banking licences.”

CBK REDEEMS ITSELF

The decision by CBK to penalise the lenders was on Thursday welcomed by experts who had long held that while there are laws and regulations which require banks to conduct checks to detect the proceeds of graft, many lenders are flouting them with no consequences.

“These were meaningful fines by the Central Bank,” said Nairobi based financial analyst Aly Khan Satchu.

Mr Kunal Ajmera, chief operating officer at consultancy firm Grant Thornton, said the sanctions would rein in rogue bankers.

“I think the action taken by CBK is unprecedented and shows the seriousness of the central bank to tackle graft in Kenya,” Mr Kunal in an interview said.

Mr Robert Shaw, also an analyst, said: “It shows the CBK is now playing a stronger and welcome role in regulating banks. For a long time it was perceived to have underperformed in this core responsibility area.”


Elachi stands ousted as women MPs rally to her defence

By NATION TEAM
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Members of the Nairobi County Assembly on Thursday said they will not allow embattled Speaker Beatrice Elachi to return to office.

Speaking at SAI Roc Hotel in Mombasa, the MCAs, led by Majority Leader Abdi Guyo, said they had impeached Ms Elachi, so she is no longer their speaker.

“Madam Elachi is currently the Speaker of the Labour and Industrial Court that reinstated her, but we will not recognise her,” Mr Guyo, who was accompanied by Deputy Speaker John Kamau, said.

The MCAs also said they will honour the summons by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), but asked the organisation to stop interfering in the Assembly’s affairs.

“We will honour their summons. But one wonders why the Speaker, who has wrongly used taxpayers’ money, has not been touched.

“We had sufficient reasons for impeaching her, which, in fact, should have prompted both EACC and the DCI to investigate her conduct. Unfortunately, we are the ones who have been summoned,” Mr Guyo added.

EACC CRITICISED

He said the summons was meant to intimidate them, but they will not be cowed since their conduct on Monday was within the Assembly’s constitution.

“We can see these are strings being pulled from behind (the scenes),” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Kamau said the EACC should stop interfering in the Assembly’s business, since the Assembly has the Powers and Privileges Committee, which deals with internal matters.

“I would like to ask the EACC to give us a chance to use the powers we are given by the committee before we respond,” Mr Kamau said.

Meanwhile, 11 women MPs on Thursday came to Ms Elachi’s defence. They accused male legislators of ganging up against, and harassing, them.

Speaking at a Huduma Mashinani Programme in Likoni, the MPs, who were accompanied by Mombasa women MCAs, said that they will not allow a fellow woman to be harassed in office.

IN SOLIDARITY WITH ELACHI

They condemned the MCAs for allegedly being compromised to remove Ms Elachi from office.

“We as women have worked hard to be in the positions where we are and we want everyone to respect that,” Mbita MP Millie Odhiambo said. “Women should not be used by men to fight other women.”

“You are putting a higher standard for women than for men. We all have the same standards. We will fight with them for the seat of Governors come 2022,” she said.

Likoni MP Mishi Mboko also asked women to defend each other when targeted. “Whenever you see a woman mistreated, be ready to defend her,” she said.


Sharon Otieno's murder ignites vote hunt in Migori

By VIVERE NANDIEMO
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Candidates for Migori Senate seat by-election have intensified their campaigns ahead of the October 8 by-election, even as the shadow of Governor Okoth Obado diminishes in the race following the killing of university student Sharon Otieno.

The contestants have resorted to door-to-door campaigns. Some have erected huge bill boards and banners in various parts of the county to sell their manifestos.

Governor Obado, who has adversely been mentioned in the killing of Ms Otieno, had opposed ODM’s move to hand a direct ticket to former Cabinet minister Ochillo Ayacko.

The governor vowed to campaign against Mr Ayacko as he warmed up to Mr Dalmas Otieno who later withdrew his candidature and instead settled for an appointment to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

OBADO’S ABSENTIA

Following the withdrawal of Mr Otieno from the race, Mr Obado shifted his support to businessman Eddy Oketch. Sources say the governor was willing to fund his campaigns to complicate matters for Mr Ayacko.

Mr Obado had handed Mr Oketch’s campaign team an open truck he had used for gubernatorial campaigns in last year’s general election. His billboards in Migori Town are also said to have been funded by the governor.

However, Ms Otieno’s killing has distracted the governor from the race, as he has not been in the county for the past one week following the student’s killing.

Mr Oketch, who is running on Federal Party of Kenya, has exuded confidence that he will give Mr Ayacko a run for his money.

ODM CAMPAIGNS

The saga surrounding the killing of Ms Otieno, the Rongo University student whose body was found in K’odera forest in Homa Bay, has featured prominently in the campaigns. Political observers contend that the case is likely to influence the race.

ODM has sent a team of elected leaders to lead grassroots campaigns for Mr Ayacko.

The team comprises Migori Woman Representative Pamela Odhiambo, MPs Peter Masara (Suna West), Paul Abuor (Rongo), Tom Odege (Nyatike) and Mark Nyamita (Uriri).

ODM chairman John Mbadi unveiled the team in South Kamagambo, Rongo.

“We are determined to ensure ODM retains this seat through Mr Ochillo Ayacko. We will leave nothing to chance,” Mr Mbadi said.

The Orange team has embarked on holding town hall meetings in all the eight sub-counties as a campaign strategy.

This week, the team visited Kuria West, Kuria East, Nyatike and Suna East.

“I believe I have what it takes to represent your interests in the Senate. I tried in 2017 to run for the top job but you all know what happened. I am now determined to serve you in a different capacity. Please walk with us,” Mr Ayacko told residents of Kuria.

ODM leader Raila Odinga is expected in the county at the tail end of the campaigns to rally support for Mr Ayacko.

Mr Ayacko is considered the front-runner after Mr Otieno withdrew from the race.

since last week when incident occurred.

The ODM camp has been accused of using the case to disparage Mr Obado hoping to capitalise on the moral perception crisis that he is currently facing in a bid to neutralise his influence in the race.

“We know some people have taken advantage of Sharon’s case to pin down the governor for political expediency. We reject this political opportunism,” Mr George Olumwa Kidikibudi, a political activist, said.

He added: “We call upon the aspirants in the upcoming by-election to stop politicising Ms Otieno’s murder and if they continue with what we are seeing, we shall be forced to come in.”

OKELLO DIES

A source close to Mr Oketch told Nation that his camp has been dealt a big blow by Ms Otieno’s murder.

“It’s true the incident is a major setback to our campaigns because Mr Obado will now concentrate on clearing his name and it’s also true he has lost some moral ground,” an ally of Mr Oketch, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

“We were really banking on his massive grassroots networks and of course his deep pockets,” he added.

The seat fell vacant following the death of Mr Ben Oluoch Okello who succumbed to the throat cancer at a Nairobi hospital.

Apart from Sharon’s murder, the Kuria community is likely to play a role in who will win the seat.

KURIA VOTES

The region, which has close to 87,000 votes, supports Jubilee Party. However, given that Jubilee has not fielded a candidate, the region’s votes are open to any candidate who manages to convince the residents.

Though Mr Solomon Hodo of People’s Democratic Party hails from Kuria West, his Luhyia ancestry has denied him an outright command of the region’s votes.

Other candidates for the seat include businessman Mr Jobando Peter (Green Congress Party of Kenya), Mr Ogolla Dickson Ogolla (Independent) and Mr Otieno Samwel Otieno (Independent).