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Is Didmus Barasa ex-army captain or a masquerader?

By Eric Wainaina
Monday, May 10th, 2021 00:00 | 5 mins read
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa. Photo/PD/Courtesy

Questions abound over how controversial Kimilili MP rose to the top rank in his short stint at Kenya Air Force even as sources say EACC could soon start verifying information on his academic and professional standing.

Eric Wainain a @EWainaina

On the National Assembly’s official website, controversial Kimilili lawmaker Didmus Barasa is identified as a former Kenya Air Force captain, who served in the military for six years in what would pass as a very impressive curriculum vitae.

And on LinkedIn, a social media platform used for professional networking, the MP passes off as “Capt Rtd Didmus Barasa, OGV” and a “safety consultant”.

According to the National Assembly website, Barasa worked for the Air Force as a captain attached to the technical wing between 2001 and 2007.

“Between 2001 and 2007 employed by the Kenya Defence Forces, Technical Wing (KAF) as captain,” the MP’s CV reads.

The website shows he went to Kimilili Secondary School upto year 2000, before joining the University of Sydney, Australia, for a diploma in security systems audit.

He later joined the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) between 2001 and 2005 for an Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree course.

But in some contradiction of sorts, the website also states that he attended the University of Queensland, Australia, for a Masters degree in Occupational, Health, Security and Safety Science, where he scored a distinction between 2008 and 2009, the same period, he claims to have been attending a diploma course at the University of Sydney, Australia.

The details have come to haunt the vocal lawmaker, who may face probe for allegedly giving false information on his declaration forms to the electoral body when he vied for the seat.

Verifying some documents

The Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti without divulging much details, confirmed his office has received several complaints on a number of MPs who have allegedly presented fake academic and professional papers.

“There are various investigations going on over the matter. It is widespread but very soon, we may get to the bottom of it, with those found culpable being charged in court,” Kinoti said.

On the other hand, EACC spokesman Yassin Amaro said the agency was verifying some documents and information in its possession over the MP’s academic and professional standing.

“We are trying to ascertain the claims. There are lots of doubts over his title of captain that detectives are at the moment trying to establish if it is true that he served in the military in that rank,” Amaro said.

But when contacted yesterday, the MP simply retorted: “Which position are you vetting me for?”

Sources at the DCI and EACC revealed that although Barasa served in the military, he never rose to the level of a captain as he proclaims.

The sources further reveal that he left the military under dubious circumstances after being tried by the military court martial.

Barasa, according to information and records at the Department of Defence joined the Air Force after a successful recruitment exercise in Kimilili in October 2007.

He is said to have graduated in May 2008 and then proceeded to the Kenya Defence Technical College at the Laikipia Airbase in Nanyuki.

The  MP, however, deserted duty, which constitutes an offence under the military laws, leading to his arrest around January 2009. He was tried by the court martial and convicted of “absenteeism”.

He was also indicted for “ gross indiscipline” in another criminal charge that fall in the miscellaneous offences under the Kenya Armed Forces Act.

Declared a deserter

Sources intimated to the People Daily Barasa was subsequently fired from the force on February 23, 2009, meaning he only served in the military for less than two years and not six years as indicated on the Parliament website.

“The guy was just a private officer who never rose to the level of a captain like he has been claiming.

In fact, he did not even work for two years because he was sacked after being declared a deserter after he was found guilty of Absence Without Leave, gross indiscipline and other serious criminal allegations,” disclosed a source with access to the MP’s records in the military, but who cannot be named since he is not authorised to speak to the media.

But in what could be of interest to EACC is the fact that despite having been tried by a court martial and even sacked over integrity issues, the MP never declared in the forms that he had been “the subject of disciplinary or criminal proceedings for breach of Public Officers Ethics Act or code of conduct thereunder” and was even dismissed from a public service job.

In the declaration form he submitted to the EACC to be cleared to contest, Barasa only said he was an engineer, who had worked for Kenya Power as a technician in 2004.

Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012 (Section 46, sub-section 1) criminalises destroying, altering, concealing or removing records of evidence that the person believes, or has background to believe may be relevant to investigation as well as providing false information to the EACC, a public entity or person acting.

“Any person who contravenes this subsection (1) commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh5 million, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or both,” reads part of the Act which was enacted by Parliament to establish procedures and mechanisms for the effective administration of Chapter Six of the Constitution.

Ironically, Barasa, who serves in the Departmental Committee on Administration and National Security, in his declaration form to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) disclosed that he was once convicted and even sentenced for at least six months.

People Daily confirmed from Kenya Power that, indeed, the MP was an employee of the utility firm in 2004, the same period he claims he was in JKUAT and at the same time serving in the military.

We, however, has not established the circumstances under which the MP, who undertook a diploma course in Electronic Engineering from the Kenya Power Training School in 2004, left the utility firm.

Worrying trend

And in yet another twist that stirs more confusion, the MP in his EACC declaration form of March 23, 2017, indicated that he had worked for Tatu City as a quality assessment manager from 2010 until 2014 when he was engaged by Alpha Group as a quality, health, safety and environment manager.

But in the details he provided to the National Assembly Clerk as part of his background information, Barasa claimed that he had been working as the quality, health, safety and environment manager at Bollore Africa Logistics Kenya in charge of East Africa, serving Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Great Lakes since 2012 till 2017.

Aside from the contradictions over work status, Barasa has also had run-ins with the law. In 2015, he was accused by a businesswoman Janet Tombo that, while he was still serving at Bollore, he conned her Sh2.6 million after pretending that he was in a position to award her company, Blue Hippo Cleaning Services,  a cleaning contract with the company.

Tombo claimed she gave Barasa the money through her employee Francis Okuto at the company offices in Westlands.

She claimed that Okuto had met the lawmaker at his previous place of work at NIC Bank, from where he handed over the money. 

But Barasa has rubbished the claims. 

Now EACC says Barasa never disclosed to it all the information about his whereabouts between 2007, the year he purportedly left the military as a captain to 2012 when he allegedly served as the quality, health, safety and environment manager at Shell Corporate Limited.

National Assembly Clerk Michael Sialai, who had promised to get back to us in regard to the trend by some MPs to file cooked up details that end up being posted on Parliament’s website, did not do so as promised.

But a senior staff at the Clerk’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confided to the People Daily they only post on the website information given to them by the lawmakers without changing it.

Last month, the MP had his “decorated” profile of his education and career background covered in one of the local dailies and its respective website under the title “Didmus Barasa: Behind the politics is an impressive CV” which highlighted his studies at JKUAT and Australian universities, as well as the alleged military captainship.

However, after the story generated heated debate on the media house’s social media platform from people who doubted it and went on to disclose some vital information about his dark past, the story was immediately pulled down. 

The story link was posted on Facebook on April 4 though can’t be accessed on the main website.

However, the story headline and the comments remain available on Facebook.