By People Daily
EACC commissioner Jane Onsongo yesterday fled the country for fear of her life hours after she, together with vice chairperson Irene Keino,Â were threatened with a gun by some influential people in government.
Keino and Onsongo were reportedly summoned to the State Law Office on Tuesday, where they met the chairman of an influential parliamentary committee, a State House aide and a senior officer in the Attorney Generalâ€™s office.
There, a gun is said to have been placed on the table, and the three officials threatened Keino to either resign from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) or face the consequences.
A few hours later, a senior officer from the State Law Office called newsrooms inviting journalists to a press conference at a hotel near EACCâ€™s headquartersÂ Integrity Centre, where Onsongo was supposed announce her resignation.
The resignation, however, did not take place. Reliable sources confirmed that Onsongo had left the country yesterday to some unknown destination, fearing for her safety. Yesterday, Keino appeared to corroborate Tuesdayâ€™s events when she admitted that she is under pressure to resign, insisting that she will not succumb to the underhand push.
Keino sensationally claimed some unnamed government officials had lured her with an ambassadorial position in exchange for her job at the commission, but she had declined. She said they had been summoned to appear before the Parliamentary Legal and Justice Committee on Tuesday, which was later cancelled.
On her way back to the EACC offices she said a top government official called her over the matter at about 11.30amÂ the same day. â€œI was told to resign and be given a new job as a Deputy Ambassador to Brazil which I flatly declined. I was told that Onsongo had agreed to resign although I only saw her resignation on the 7pm news on television,â€ said Keino.
â€œThere is a brazen attempt to force my resignation and disbandment of the EACC by a clique of people who are unhappy with the cases currently under investigations,â€ she said at a press conference at the EACC headquarters yesterday.
Sources told the People Daily that after Keino and Onsongo arrived at the State Law Office, they were ushered into two separate rooms in efforts to convince them to quit from their positions in the anti-graft body, in what the three officers claimed to be â€œin the public interest.â€
Keino left the room she had been in and walked into where Onsongo was and asked her not to give in to the pressure. It is at this point that Commissioner Keino was offered a job as a deputy ambassador to â€œprove that the request to step down was not in bad faithâ€.
Onsongo, however, bowed to pressure from the top State officials and resigned later on Tuesday night. The two commissioners were being forced to quit on a day that the Attorney General formed a multi-agency task force to review the legal, policy and institutional framework to fight corruption.
The AG, who will chair the task force, will work alongside 18 other members drawn from various institutions to discharge their mandate in 60 days, raising fears over the legality of the process, and the mandate and role of the commission in the investigations and possible prosecution of individuals whose names it presented to the President.
The corruption fight has now threatened to tear apart Parliamentâ€™s Legal Affairs Committee after some members accused the leadership of engaging in schemes to force out EACC commissioners. The members are accusing committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga of working with the office of the Solicitor General to force commission chairman Mumo Matemu and his vice chair Irene Keino to step down.
Homa Bay MP Peter Kaluma made the allegations yesterday saying members will not allow Chepkonga to chair the commission today as it discusses a petition calling on the commissioners to resign. â€œWe have already crafted a motion to remove the chair from office.
He has demonstrated he is working with the Executive and hence it will be a conflict of interest if he chairs todayâ€™s meeting,â€ Kaluma told journalists at Parliament Buildings. Kaluma claimed the meeting at Njee Muturiâ€™s office was attended by Chepkonga and Abdikadir Mohamed, the presidential adviser on legal matters.
The threeâ€”Chepkonga, Muturi and Abdikadirâ€”neither picked our calls yesterday, nor responded to text messages seeking their comments.Â Matemu later said â€œpowerful forcesâ€ were behind allegations of wars within the commission.