You are on your own, Wako told
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MARTIN MUTUA and CYRUS OMBATI
The national spy agency, which the Attorney General mentioned adversely in relation to illegal alteration of Proposed Constitution while in his hands, has asked him to bear his own cross.
The storm set off by the discovery which Mr Amos Wako conceded was factual continue to swirl around the reform process, which is in a delicate near-end stage, as the ‘No’ team called the AG to step aside to allow for an audit of the document and investigation into the two-word alteration.
Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo and Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere, in a bid to lessen the dent on the review process, claimed the alterations were an act of sabotage aimed at derailing the review process.
Attorney General Amos Wako.
The storm threatened to boil over on a day when the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) released the Referendum Question within the timeframe it is given by the review Act. IIEC has to make public the referendum symbols within 14 days of releasing the question.
However, as the question went out, the storm over the alterations threatened to gloss over the national civic education programme launched on Tuesday by the Committee of Experts (CoE).
Though the alterations sneaked into the document, leading to circulation of two parallel sets, one from which NSIS would be a beneficiary in the Bill of Rights clause, NSIS Director General Michael Gichangi responded he did not understand the basis of Wako’s claims.
Also asking Wako to carry his own cross, given that the distortions took place in the publication stage over which he is the sole authority, was the Office of the President under which the Government Printer falls.
Mr Wako, who is no stranger to controversy of this nature, played whistleblower and announced a specific printing line at Government Printer had been stopped and 20,000 contaminated copies already printed recalled.
Though Wako protested his innocence and that the State Law Office employees were beyond reproach, and ordered the Police Commissioner to investigate the alterations, it appears he has literally been left on his own.
On Wednesday, the chairmen of Parliamentary Select Committee on Review and CoE — Mr Abdikadir Mohammed and Mr Nzamba Kitonga — said the copies they saw were okay and declared only Wako could explain where the doctored version originated.
Still on Wednesday, Higher Education minister William Ruto who is the de facto leader of ‘No’, called for suspension of the process. “Taking into account the magnitude of this conspiracy, the fraud visited on the people of Kenya and controversy generated therein, the entire review process is now damaged beyond repair,” he said.
PSC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed (left) and Vice-Chairman Ababu Namwamba address the Press at Parliament Buildings, Nairobi, Thursday, where they criticised bid to alter the proposed draft law. [PHOTO: COLLINS KWEYU/STANDARD]
Yesterday, following discovery of the distortions to the Bill of Rights in the Draft and Wako’s attempt to absolve himself and his officers, Internal Security Permanent Secretary Mr Francis Kimemia defended the Government Printer.
Kimemia argued the Government Printer has a “tight and clear system that cannot be circumvented” declared the error might have originated or committed at AG’s office.
“The Government Printer prints what he has been instructed. There is a system that is usually followed before a product is printed there and no one can change that,” he said.
Kimemia said the instructions the Government Printer received from the AG’s office are those that were found in the final product.
He countered Wako’s call for the Printer to be investigated, arguing: “If any investigations should be carried out, it should be at the AG’s office where the last instructions came from.”
“The mistakes made should be looked into at the AG’s office because that is where the instructions came from last. We do not alter anything at the Government Printer,” Kimemia told The Standard on the phone.
Gichangi said the claim by Wako that he had been contacted by his agency to distort the draft was not true. Speaking to The Standard on phone from abroad, he said: “I am not aware of any alterations to the Proposed Constitution that my officers could have carried out as has been adversely mentioned in the media.”
Gichangi who is out of the country on official duties said he had directed that investigation into the matter be launched.
The Police Commissioner said the Force would commence investigations into the issue. “Whoever did it wanted to derail this process, but the truth will be known soon and those behind it will definitely face action,” Mr Iteere declared.
Iteere met his officers for the better part of day in what was believed to be State’s damage-control strategy following Wako’s well-publicised accusations against the NSIS.
Yesterday, for the second day, Abdikadir spoke, lamenting what took place at the Printer was “tragic” and demanded the public be told the truth.
“What transpired at the Government Printer is tragic and Kenyans must be told who did it and what action the Government has taken to apprehend the culprits,” he added.
The officials spoke as the row of the discovery of the alterations to the Bill of Rights continued to rage even as the IIEC revealed the question Kenyans who will come out on the referendum day will vote on.
There were also reports the State was mopping up copies of the ‘strange’ draft, with focus on Parliament. Sources told The Standard all the copies that had been supplied to Parliament by the Government Printer last week were yesterday removed and staff informed new ones would be brought next week.
Justice Minister Mutula Kilonzo and a cross-section of MPs called on President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to bring to book those who altered the document. The MPs argued “publicly punishing” those behind the alterations was the only way the process would remain credible.
“It is clear this is the work of people out to derail the process and the Attorney general and the Police Commissioner should by now have arrested the culprits who are out to derail the process,” said Mutula from New York.
CID Deputy Director Peter Eregae met senior officers in the morning to plan how conduct the investigations ordered by Iteere.
A legal senior officer, Mr Richard Cheruiyot, and eight others, were detailed as further instructions were being awaited.
Sources said the CID team agreed to commence their investigations at the Government Printer and finish at the AG’s office. “There is a criminal element of printing a government document without permission and we look forward to nailing those behind it,” said an officer who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Abdikadir, however, assured Kenyans his committee had audited the document and was satisfied the process was secure. “The integrity of the draft is intact and that is the only document which will be placed before Kenyans at the referendum,” he added.
Abdikadir who was accompanied by his deputy Budalang’i MP Ababu Namwamba said the review process could not be manipulated by anyone because it has a secure chain process.
The two, however, said alteration of Article 24 to include the NSIS had indeed been discussed at the committee after a member raised it and it was rejected.
At the same MPs attached to the caucus that supports the Proposed Constitution blamed the alterations on anti-reform groups.
“What has just happened is not an accident but the tip of the iceberg of what the anti-reformers have rolled out and they have penetrated all areas including the Government, Parliament and even the security forces,” said Garsen MP Danson Mungatana who is its chairman.
Mutitu MP Kiema Kilonzo and his Igembe South counterpart Mithika Linturi who are in the ‘No’ camp claimed the admission by Wako there were two drafts in circulation showed the process was illegal.