NAIROBI, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Kenya’s anti-graft commission arrested 20 people on Monday, including the heads of two state-run companies and the suspended head of a third, in one of the biggest sweeps in the commission’s three-year history, the commission said on Monday.
Another seven individuals, including a regional governor, have not yet been arrested, but are being sought for “corruption-related charges.”
Fresh cases of graft have led to public and media calls for resignations and put further pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta to tackle Kenya’s rampant corruption. Last week, Kenyatta convened a joint government and private- sector team to draw up strategies to fight corruption.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) said most of the 27 individuals had turned themselves in on Monday and are expected to appear in court on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The 27 included Silas Simiyu, the managing director of the Geothermal Development Company, along with eight other people from the company, and Evans Ngibuini, the managing director of the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corp, and five others from that company.
It also included Charles Tanui, the suspended managing director of the Kenya Pipeline Company, and three other officials from the company.
Most of those accused work in procurement, the EACC said.
Attempts to reach the Geothermal Development Company, the National Water Conservation and Pipeline Corp and the Kenya Pipeline Company were unsuccessful.
The EACC said the Isiolo Governor Godana Doyo - who the commission had sought to arrest on charges related to the county’s budget - “has gone into hiding.”
But a spokesman for the governor denied Doyo was at large, saying he was in fact in the capital Nairobi and intended to appear in court in the coming days.
“Of course he is saying he is innocent,” the spokesman said.
Last week, the United States, Britain and nine other countries pledged to help Kenya fight corruption, promising to step up efforts to prevent funds leaving the country and pushing for those involved in graft to be prosecuted.
EACC says 70 percent of all corruption in the country relates to procurement, especially in government ministries and departments.
During a visit to Kenya this July, U.S. President Barack Obama said corruption “may be the biggest impediment to Kenya growing faster.” (Editing by George Obulutsa, Larry King)