By Ndung’u Wainaina
Whenever Kenyans demand accountability over the â€˜Chicken Eatingâ€™ corruption scandal Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) quickly jumps into defence arguing innonce until proven guilty. It has further gone to claim, â€œwe are neither the Courts nor the gods. letâ€™s wait. We cannot have cut and paste justice. Cut London, paste Nairobi. Let’s be fairâ€.
That argument is sheer hollow, feeble and nonsense. In fact explains why IEBC cannot enforce integrity and ethics of the election candidates despite having constitutional powers to do so. It gives excuses and explains way the issue.
The highly politicized arguments on â€˜until proven guiltyâ€™ do not hold water since the Constitution shifts from the traditional mere presumption of innocent until proven guilty in criminal liability to the threshold of suspicion and belief of having violated any section of it.
The ruling by the Judicial Tribunal that investigated the conduct of dismissed Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza raised the integrity bar required of State and public officers.
Contrary to IEBC shameless arguments on innocent until proven guilty, the issues of criminal records are only a part of a core set of integrity parameters, which were well developed by the tribunal. The tribunal was categorical that it was not investigating criminal conduct but rather her conduct in the fiasco. For this reason, the tribunal said, â€œwe have spread our net wide and made reference to Chapter 4 on the Bills of Rights, Article 10, Article 28 and Article 73â€ to ensure no infringe of rights of the person while protecting integrity of institution of the judiciary.
The tribunal made a distinction between presumption of innocence as articulated in the administration of criminal justice and integrity standards expected of public/state officers. The tribunal asserted that standard of proof touching on the conduct and integrity of public officers is â€œneither that of criminal law, that is beyond reasonable doubt nor that in civil cases, which is on a balance of probabilityâ€.
The tribunal stated that unethical conduct or lack of integrity by state officers only required accurate proof and material facts. The innocence of a suspect until proven guilty is within the purview of administration of criminal justice system but cannot withstand or hinder the well-defined and enshrined national principles and values of ethics and integrity. In any case, when your conduct leads you to reasonable suspicion from a law enforcement agency to prefer a charge to be drawn against you, your integrity is called to question.
Consequently, the bar set by the Judicial tribunal on Nancy Baraza on question of integrity demand that any person adversely mentioned and or linked to â€˜Chicken Eatingâ€™ corruption scandal must resign or be forced to leave public/state office. After all Uhuru Kenyatta suspended senior government officials from public/stare office mere allegations of corruption. In case of â€˜Chicken Eatingâ€™ corruption scandal courts have already convicted individuals and proceeded to recover proceeds of corruption.