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Uhuru pressure forces Maraga to shuffle judges

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A threat by President Uhuru Kenyatta to Chief Justice David Maraga forced the CJ to make radical changes in the Judiciary yesterday.

Two weeks ago during the anti-corruption conference at Bomas, the President told Maraga that if he did not make changes then “we will help you do so”.

At the conference, Maraga came under intense public pressure to rein in judicial officers seen as stumbling blocks in the fight against corruption. Virtually all senior government officials and ODM leader Raila Odinga accused the courts of giving suspects minimal bails, issuing anticipatory arrests orders and giving injunctions arbitrarily.

But Maraga put up a robust defence of the Judiciary, insisting that the arm of government he leads was independent and judges will always abide by the rule of law. However, President Kenyatta laughed off the excuses, telling the CJ to put his house in order if he was serious about the war on corruption or someone would do it for him. Yesterday, Maraga announced a major shuffle of key judges in a move likely to be interpreted as bowing to pressure from the Executive.

Among those moved is Constitutional Judge Chacha Mwita. He has been transferred to the High Court in Kajiado. Mwita will be replaced by Justice Welson Korir who was in Malindi. A letter seen by the Star dated February 1 and signed by the CJ says the decision to transfer her was reached after a needs assessment was undertaken.

“Following an assessment of the needs and resources of the Judiciary, it has become necessary to make a few transfers at this time,” the letter reads. The letter by Maraga indicated that the transfers will take effect on March 1.

Also moved from the Constitutional and Human Rights Division is Justice Wilfrida Okwany, who will take over from Justice Aaron Makau at the Commercial and Tax Division.

Read: Justices Chacha Mwita, Weldon Korir moved in latest reshuffle

Justice Reuben Nyakundi, who has been the presiding judge at the High Court in Kajiado, has been moved to the High Court in Malindi to replace Korir. It has not escaped the curious eye of observers that Mwita and Okwany have been handling major cases that have rubbed the Executive the wrong way.

Mwita has made multiple decisions that have left the Executive with an egg on its face after bullying its way outside the constitutional order. Some of these have related to the Judicial Service Commission. Others include the controversial deportation of lawyer Miguna Miguna and the criminal case facing Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu.

Last month, Mwita ruled that President Uhuru Kenyatta violated the Constitution by failing to appoint Justice Mohamed Warsame to the Judicial Service Commission over 10 months after he was elected by his colleagues at the Court of Appeal. Justice Mwita said the decision by the President not to gazette Warsame was unconstitutional and unlawful.

In mid-December last year, Mwita ordered Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and Immigration PS Gordon Kihalangwa to pay lawyer Miguna Miguna Sh7.2 million for unlawfully deporting him to Canada and breaking his Runda house.

The judge ruled that Miguna’s rights were violated and the two senior state officials were held personally liable for their actions, adding that taxpayers should not pay for the public officials’ individual misdeeds. It was Mwita who in August last year suspended criminal charges against Deputy Chief Justice Mwilu.

Mwita said the petition raises constitutional issues that need to be addressed, holding that the charges Mwilu faces arose out of a commercial dispute. He said that this being the case, the court needed to determine whether a commercial dispute could amount to a criminal charge.

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The Executive complained at the time that the Judiciary was seeking to protect one of their own from facing criminal charges. In February last year, Mwita made a ruling that automatically gave Auditor General Edward Ouko the go-ahead to audit the billions of shillings annually allocated to the military and other security agencies.

Read: We have right to complain about ‘rogue, biased’ Judiciary – Uhuru’s party

In the landmark ruling, Mwita declared Section 40 of the Public Audit Act No 34, 2015, and others as inconsistent with constitutional provisions.

In 2017, just before the repeat elections, the Jubilee side in Parliament forced changes to the elections laws that were later challenged in court. The case fell in the hands of Justice Mwita, who, in December of the same year, suspended Elections Laws, 2017, pending conclusion of the case challenging their legality.

In his short ruling, Mwita said the suspension would remain until March 16 last year, when he would deliver a judgment. In April last year, he declared as unconstitutional some sections of the controversial Election Laws that were hurriedly passed by Jubilee MPs days to the October 26 poll.

His colleague in the same division, Justice Okwany, has also made some uncomfortable rulings against the Executive.

Last year, she issued temporary orders restraining the DCI and Inspector General of Police from posting suspects’ booking photographs, pending hearing and determination of the petition. This order has largely been ignored.

It was Justice Okwany who also lifted the ban on the lesbian based movie Rafiki after the government banned it from being screened in the country.

Last month, she declared the recruitment of commissioners to the National Cohesion and Integration Commission by Parliament as unconstitutional. The judge ruled that any appointment resulting from the nominations by Parliament was null and void.

In July last year, in a move Treasury said would cripple revenue collection, Justice Okwany suspended the implementation of excise duty introduced in Finance Bill,2018.

In her ruling, she said duty on money transferred by banks is an important issue that cannot be the subject of guesswork or individual interpretation by the lenders.

Read: Uhuru, Judiciary standoff on Justice Warsame takes a turn

Yesterday, lawyer Ahmednassir Abdullahi tweeted that the CJ is trying to appease the executive and is dismantling the constitutional and judicial review division of the high court.

“Breaking news… CJ Maraga in a move seen by observers to appease the executive dismantles the constitutional and human rights division and other divisions of the high court and appoints judges acceptable to the executive…more to follow shortly,” tweeted the lawyer.

Just last week, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria in an opinion piece published in the Star argued that Mwita had arrogated to himself the power to appoint Warsame as a JSC commissioner.

“This is state capture by the Judiciary and a serious affront to the rule of law and separation of powers. It is an issue that Justice David Kenani Maraga has to address if he expects the rest of us to respect the Judiciary,” Kuria said.

Also Read: Maraga lauds Uhuru for Judiciary budget review

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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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