Oparanya, wives quizzed in graft probe

Thursday, August 24th, 2023 06:30 | By
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Wycliffe Oparanya. PHOTO/Print

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Deputy Party Leader Wycliffe Oparanya and his two wives were yesterday arrested by detectives from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) over corruption and economic crimes committed during his tenure as Kakamega governor.

EACC said they had been conducting investigations into embezzlement of funds from the County under Oparanya’s watch between 2013 and 2022.

Detectives said the amount involved could be in excess of Sh1.3 billion.

“It was found that public funds were unlawfully acquired through proxies and associates,” EACC Deputy CEO Abdi Mohammed said yesterday. “The former governor was brought to EACC headquarters to clarify several issues and record a statement on the ongoing investigations.”

Former governor

Oparanya served as Kakamega governor for two terms from 2013 to 2022.

“We successfully conducted a search on various targets. In our searches we have successfully found documents, hard cash and other items that we will be analysing,” the EACC boss said. “We have summoned the former governor, his wife and other close associates so that they can record their statement.”

There was drama at Oparanya’s residence after he declined to board a vehicle belonging to the EACC when he was picked up for questioning from his home in Karen, Nairobi.

Oparanya instead opted to board his lawyer, Ken Nyaundi’s vehicle but an EACC officer directed that two police officers also board the same vehicle.

Oparanya was also grilled over alleged procurement irregularities.

Abdi said the Kakamega County investigations was part of the high-impact investigations into loss of public funds that they were undertaking in various county governments , which are at different stages.

“Upon conclusion, the investigation files will be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for further directions,” he said.

Civil proceedings

He added that the commission may also file civil proceedings for recovery of public funds if investigations reveal to have been unlawfully acquired.

“The Commission conducts its investigations independently, impartially, and professionally, and in accordance with its mandate as spelt under the law,” he added.

Abdi also urged the leaders and the general public to allow EACC to discharge its mandate and to desist from politicizing and ethnicizing the work of independent offices, which remains a leading challenge in the fight against corruption.

The EACC detectives also conducted a raid at the former governor’s Mabole rural home in Butere constituency in connection with corruption at the county government.

The detectives based at the regional offices in Kakamega arrived at Oparanya’s residence at around 8 am and cordoned it off, not allowing anybody in or out of the compound.

“They were here very early, by 8 am, they have blocked everybody from accessing the compound, Mheshimiwa is not in however,’ said a worker who sought anonymity.

Also locked out of the compound was Oparanya’s lawyer Ken Echesa.

This is the second time the former governor has been arrested this year. Oparanya, in July, was arrested after being accused of organising anti-government protests in Western Kenya.

Abdi confirmed that Oparanya was taken to Integrity Centre in Nairobi to “clarify several issues and record a statement on the ongoing investigation.”

Earlier in the day, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party in a statement announced that Oparanya had been arrested together with his wife Pricilla.

”Our Deputy Party Leader Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has been arrested by officers from the DCI. Oparanya together with his wife Madam Priscillah are currently at the EACC offices at Integrity Centre,” ODM stated revealing his homes in Nairobi and Kakamega had been ransacked.

The former Governor is yet to make a statement on his arrest and Sh1.3 billion allegations revealed by the EACC.

Various Azimio leaders among them NARC-Kenya Party boss Martha Karua and ODM Secretary General Edwin Sifuna showed up at the EACC headquarters in a show of solidarity.

The leaders claimed the operation was a political witchhunt linking it to the anticipated tour of western Kenya by President William Ruto.

The Oparanyas were later released.

Additional reporting by Douglas Dindi

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