Busia Senator Amos Wako is currently the talk of the country after Donald Trump’s government banned his entire family from entering the US.
The politician was blacklisted from the US for his alleged involvement in corrupt practices, suspected to date back to his days as Kenya’s Attorney General.
According to Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, the US government has enough evidence to allow for Wako’s sanctioning, as well as that of his entire family.
This, however, is not the first time that the member of the Building Bridges Initiative taskforce has found himself in trouble, over his conduct as a public servant, as well as matters pertaining to his private life.
In fact, it is not the first time that the US has slapped the Senator with a travel ban.
In 2009, the then U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, announced that a top-ranking Kenyan government official had been sanctioned from travelling to America, with the then US Ambassador, Michael Ranneberger, confirming that Wako was the officer in question.
According to Carson, the decision arose out of Wako’s failure in his Attorney General capacity to tame rampant corruption across government institutions.
“Over the last 15 years, there have been a number of grand corruption scandals in this country, from Anglo-Leasing all the way back to Goldenberg. In none of those cases, in which millions and millions of dollars have been stolen, has there been an effective prosecution of anyone. No one has gone to jail for that,” Carson said, a statement which Wako termed as defamatory.
The US is not the only influential entity that Wako has been in trouble with.
During the International Criminal Court trials of six Kenyans, including President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto, for allegedly inciting citizens into deadly violence after the 2007 General Election, the then case prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo accused Wako of deliberately frustrating his efforts to bring the guilty parties to book, by withholding critical documents.
“My question to the Kenyan government is this: Does the government of Kenya want justice for the victims? We need an unequivocal answer, an answer that Kenyans and the world could understand,” Mr Ocampo said in May 2011.
“Is the government of Kenya protecting witnesses or protecting the suspects from the investigation? That is the question,” he further posited.
Ocampo spoke shortly after The Hague dismissed an application by Wako, challenging the admissibility of the cases against the Ocampo six, seeking to have them tried in Kenya instead.
Wako has also in the past been negatively implicated in the derailment of investigations into the Angloleasing mega scandal during his tenure as AG.
In 2009, the British Government’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) put Wako on the spot for frustrating its bid to solve the Ksh10 billion scandal, that rocked the Kenyan and UK governments, accusing him of withholding evidence pertinent to the case.
This is after Wako failed to deliver on a December 2008 deadline to submit records to the SFO scandal, instead, asking for more time to compile the requisite information.
Wako’s woes do not revolve only around work-related matters.
In 2017, the former AG once again hit the headlines after it emerged that embattled Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and himself were, shockingly, long term lovers.
This was after Mwilu was accused of engaging in corruption and abuse of office with the protection of high ranking individuals including the former AG.
According to individuals familiar with the relationship between the two learned friends, their romance dates back to the 90s.
In 2011, the relationship had also been highlighted during a petition seeking to bar Mwilu from presiding over a case in which Wako’s office had been jointly sued with the Judicial Service Commission.
According to the petitioners, Mwilu’s relationship with Wako created a conflict of interest for her. The petition was dismissed.
Mwilu at the time said that her relationship with the then AG was well known to the public and that there was nothing for them to hide.
Wako, during his AG tenure, was also embroiled in the Goldenberg corruption scandal, with different investigating bodies accusing him of using his legal influence to derail their probes.
While justifying Wako’s 2009 ban from the US, Ranneberger noted that the now politician had been mentioned adversely in the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Goldenberg Affair report of 2005, for failure to prosecute the leaders implicated in the Goldenberg scandal such as the late George Saitoti.
“The Attorney General failed to move on the scandal, even as details of its magnitude and the senior level of officials allegedly involved were revealed…In this scenario, it is not surprising to note that although Wako commenced Goldenberg related prosecutions in 1994 it was not until 1998 that the hearing of only one case commenced,” Ranneberger said.