EACC warns Waluke, Barasa on ‘dubious’ military titles

The anti-corruption watchdog has cautioned Sirisia MP John Waluke and his Kimilili counterpart Didmus Barasa against using titles they never earned during their military service.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), in separate cease-and-desist letters addressed to the two lawmakers, warned that the MPs could be prosecuted for impersonation under the Penal Code.

Mr Waluke, who is out on bail as his appeal against conviction for fraud and illegal acquisition of Sh297 million through shady deals at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) is heard, has been using the title of Major (rtd) while Mr Barasa has been using the title Captain (rtd).

However, the EACC established that the titles are dubious as the two lawmakers never attained them during their service with the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).

“The commission received information that you have been using the title of Major (rtd) in your official transactions and otherwise, yet you have never acquired and/or attained such a title while serving (in the KDF),” the letter to Mr Waluke reads in part. A similar letter was sent to Mr Barasa. Both letters were copied to Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi, Clerk of the National Assembly Michael Sialai and Chief of Defence Forces Gen. Robert Kibochi.

Never acquired rank

“It is, therefore, evident that you have never acquired the rank of Captain (rtd) and any such representation to the public and in official documents such as those filed at the Office of the Clerk of the National Assembly amounts to a breach of the integrity and ethical requirements laid out under Chapter Six of the Constitution and the Leadership and Integrity Act, 2012,” the letter to Mr Barasa reads.

When the Nation sought Mr Barasa’s comment, the lawmaker said the EACC had not contacted him. He alleged malice against him on the part of EACC, maintaining he was yet to see the letter dated September 23.

“They (EACC) were investigating pettiness. They have become petty. I have given instructions to my lawyers to claim damages on my behalf. They seem determined to harass me on pettiness. Let them focus on Covid-19 billionaires and other corrupt entities, not the pettiness of use of a title and my past military experience. They have become politicians drafting negative political narratives. I will meet them in a constitutional court soon,” said Mr Barasa.

Mr Waluke did not respond.

Request to be discharged

According to military records, Mr Waluke joined the KDF on April 15, 1980 and left on May 21, 1994 after his request to be discharged on compassionate grounds was approved.

At the time of his retirement, he was in the rank of senior private, which is the second lowest rank in the military after private.

He was in the 76 Armoured Reconnaissance Battalion, which is based in Gilgil, as a tank loader and later as a driver at the defence headquarters.

Lasted just a year

However, records show the Kimilili MP lasted just a year and 76 days in the KDF – from October 28, 2007 to February 26,2009.

Records further show Mr Barasa was dismissed from KDF on disciplinary grounds of absenteeism and gross misconduct, including forging a senior officer’s signature to obtain a loan. At the time of his dismissal, Mr Barasa was in the rank of ‘private’.

EACC CEO Twalib Mbarak said the two MPs had been impersonating senior military officers by using titles that they did not earn.

“The two portray a very unfortunate case of state officers who are involved in impersonation, as they did not attain those ranks. The offence is criminal under the Penal Code,” said Mr Mbarak.

Geneva Centre for Africa Security and Strategic Studies executive director Simiyu Werunga said many people have been using military and police titles that they did not legally earn.

“Those are fakes. As officers who have served this country and are content with the ranks we attained, we hate it when we see impostors quoting big titles that they don’t have. That is impersonation,” said Dr Werunga.

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