MPs in near fight over sh60m bribe
A meeting of a committee of the National Assembly yesterday turned rowdy as members accused each other over a Sh4 million bribe.
MPs who sit on the Committee on Agriculture nearly came to blows after allegations were made that the chairman, Adan Nooru, had received a bribe from sugar barons to go slow on its report on the sugar crisis in the country.
What had started off as a closed-door session of the committee degenerated into shouts and sneers, forcing members to demand that it be opened up to the press after other members insisted that the bribery allegations be made in public.
It is at this juncture that a face-off erupted, with some members saying that some unnamed sugar barons had distributed money to some of their colleagues to water down the report.
Three MPs – Fred Outa (Nyando) Ben Washiali (Mumias East) and John Kobado (Uriri) – who have declined to sign the report tabled in the House, insisted bribes were paid to influence the report.
They said the initial report was to drop the names of those who had mismanaged the Mumias Sugar Company.
Other committee members demanded that the three substantiate claims they had allegedly made that Sh60 million was paid to the committee to overturn the report.
Both Washiali and Outa denied ever making the allegations, though the former maintained that the Sh4 million allegedly deposited in Nooru’s account had a bearing on the “hollow” report tabled in the House.
Washiali went on to claim that Sigowet/Soin MP Justice Kemei had whispered to him that another Sh100million has been set aside by sugar barons to ensure the report was thrown out by the House.
“If I was to talk of money I would not have said Sh60 million. I would have stated Sh100 million, which Kemei had whispered to me had been set aside to take care of the House in terms of altering the report,” said Washiali.
However, it is the controversy over Sh4 million, allegedly deposited in the personal account of the committee chairman, that caused more hostilities, with Washiali and Mt Elgon MP John Serut engaging in exchanges that fell just short of a physical fight.
The issue of the money was first raised by Lugari MP Ayub Savula. Savula had, during the committee deliberations in Mombasa, tabled a deposit slip alleging that the money was paid to the chairman of the committee to influence the report’s content.
“I have a feeling the Sh4 million has had an effect on the report that we came up with. I know the money was deposited in your account and even if you want to kill me I will say it,” Washiali told the chairman.
Serut, committee vice chairman Kareke Mbiuki (Maara) and Othaya MP Mary Wambui challenged Washiali to give evidence on the money.
They expressed anger that the statement suggested that MPs who had signed the report had also received part of the money.
“Savula has never substantiated his claims. He must now come and apologise and withdraw the claim, just as Washiali owes us an apology,” said Mbiuki.
Nooru defended himself against the allegations of bribery.
He told the committee that they had worked tirelessly to produce the report and disclosed that there had been consensus to drop the names for lack of evidence.
“We decided to leave it to the wisdom of the House to decide if they could employ the draft report of KPMG from where the names were imported,” said the committee chairman.
Nooru accused Washiali of pushing the committee to indict “a particular person”, which the committee rejected, as there was insufficient evidence to link the person with the woes at Mumias.