Lessons from Kenya’s anti-corruption campaign By Tunde Salman

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It is often said that without comparing, the mind would not know how to progress. Travels, since time immemorial, offer human beings a platform for comparison. This underscores the motive of this contribution from a recent visit to Kenya. Sometimes in February, precisely between February 18 and 21, 2018, I was part of a five-member delegates from a Local Advisory Group (LAG) of Transparency International (TI)–Nigeria (a chapter-in-formation, being promoted for full-fledged accreditation by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre [CISLAC]) that had gone to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, to understudy good practices in running catalytic anti-corruption campaigns in the east African context.
The five visiting delegates from TI-Nigeria’s LAG were led by a member of CISLAC board of trustees, Barrister Adesina Oke, who is also its Director of Legal and Mr. Lukman Adefolahan, the project coordinator. Other members of the delegation included Ms Soile Toluwalope, from Convention on Business Integrity, Tunde Salman, the convener of Good Governance Team, and a representative of one of the anti-corruption agencies in the country. It indicates the extent by which civil society can foster people-to-people relations thereby expanding intra/inter-African cooperation.
Like most other Africans, the Kenyans, look at Nigerians as big brothers. It is no longer news that Nigeria and Kenya share a lot of negative commonalities. For example, whilst news of a money swallowing snake becomes the common refrain across the social media in Nigeria, the news media in Kenya was awash with the arraignment of a member of parliament Alfred Keter and two others on charges of “allegations of forging Sh633 million worth of treasury bills”; how “suspected terrorist booked a hotel room overlooking Central Police Station, giving him a good view of a host of targets.” There is also clampdown on four private Local TV stations over live coverage of the so-called swearing-in of opposition leader, Ralia Odinga, or the deportation of Canadian-Kenyan, Miguna Miguna.
In the civil society sector, the Kenyan NGOs communities are regulated by the dictates of the following laws: the NGOs Act, the Public Benefit Organization Act under the purview of the Public Benefit Authority with stringent authorization rules. Perhaps, this is why Nigerian NGOs communities are strongly averse to the obnoxious NGOs Bill in the National Assembly. Already, NGOs are registered nationally in Nigeria, by Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) under part C as incorporated trustees or LTD/GTE. Other national agencies like the Ministry of Budget and National Planning Commission, the Special Control Unit on Money Laundering (SCUML), and to some extent Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) also have some of supervisory responsibilities on CSOs activities in Nigeria.
In any case, the visit, conceived as part of a broader shared-learning knowledge exchange programme to various TI Chapters in selected countries, afforded the delegation the opportunity to interface with key stakeholders in Kenyan’s anti-corruption fight from both supply and demand sides in Nairobi. The visit also enabled the delegates to evaluate the level of implementation of anti-corruption commitments which the Presidents of Nigeria and Kenya alongside others leaders pledged at the 2016 London Summit on anti-corruption as well as appraising the challenges the Kenyans face in their quest to build a society free of corruption. Aside extensive briefings from TI-Kenya, under the leadership of its Executive Director, Samuel Kimeu, the delegates interacted with two key supply side institutions in the fight against corruption in the republic of Kenya; namely: the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the State Law Office, a policy arm of the department of Justice and held an interview session on a local FM Station (KWETU Radio). The most illuminating engagements for me with useful lessons learned for Nigeria’s anti-corruption fights were the numerous nuggets and takeaways from meetings with the EACC.
Whilst Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies wouldn’t put a definite amount on total money so far recovered from our stolen wealth even when prompted by oversight authorities, their counterpart in Kenya has already published such information for their public consumption. Take for instance in 2016/2017 fiscal year, the EACC’s annual report indicated a record of 17/18 convictions and Ksh. 7.8 billions (about US$80million) in asset recovery.
According to the EACC management and local media reports, the EACC “completed 32 asset-tracing inquires in respect of Sh5billion (US$50million) public assets, made 23 applications for preservation of assets that had been illegally acquired…carried out 25 covert investigations resulting in averting lost of public funds at approximately Sh6.2 billion (US$62million)” in the year ended June 2017. Moreover, the EACC received and analyzed 8,044 reports or complaints of which 3,735 fell within its mandates; the reminders were referred to other state agencies for specified action.
In the same period, the commission received 574 reports on violations of Chapter Six of the new Constitution of Kenya (2010), out of which 111 were analyzed and completed; analyzed 143 files on corruption and economic crimes submitted to Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for action. Out of these files, the EACC said it recommended 110 for prosecutions, seven for administrative action and 26 for closure. The commission finalized 25 cases in courts resulting in 18 convictions and seven acquittals and three withdrawn. In converse, 62 petitions challenging investigations and prosecution were filed against the commission.
Notwithstanding this level of success, the EACC, however, acknowledged that investigating corruption cases could be very challenging as the Commission remains the punch-bag of politically exposed persons (PEPs) which may explain the reason for high rate of turnover of its Commissioners. Put simply, the frustration in fighting corruption in Kenya is real since the corrupt elements always frustrate investigations. The good thing is that progress is being made in spite of mounting challenges ,especially since the promulgation of the new Constitution in 2010.
Corruption is intertwined with politics the more reason the new constitution provides clear framework to guarantee fair elections and trust in the credibility of the country’s electoral process. The constitution mandates EACC to develop code of ethics and vet politicians running for offices to undertake integrity test superintended by the commission before putting themselves up for leadership selection in the country. How the EACC runs its integrity test is testimony to evolving political discipline and maturity of Kenyan political elite since the promulgation of its new constitution in 2010. One can imagine the kind of hullabaloos such intervention will generate if attempted in Nigeria.


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