, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 8 – A former senior official at the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) on Wednesday shocked a panel selecting members to the National Police Service Commission when he claimed that the anti-graft body was itself a den of corruption.
Yassin Mohammed Ismail who served as the Principal Officer at the KACC told the panel that the commission (now known as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission) is not better placed to fight corruption at all “because it has employed police officers whose attitude towards corruption has never changed.”
Ismail is currently a consultant with various organisations including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Kenya Red Cross Society.
Responding to questions from a member of the panel Samuel Tororei of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Ismail narrated how incompetent police officers seconded to the commission cannot fight corruption.
Tororei: So your view is that the anti corruption authority is itself corrupt because of the staff it chose to use to fight corruption.
Ismail: Yes definitely. To me investigation is supposed to be an art and a process. An accountant can do investigations; a systems analyst can do investigations. Investigation is about following tracks of records and provide it as evidence in a court of law. But if that fails to happen, then you will be sitting on corruption and at the same time you fail completely and that is one of the reasons why anti corruption failed.
He also told the panel that the anti graft body is often used to fight turf wars.
“That organisation is used as an instrument of power and that is why today you can see a lot of antagonising views in Parliament and people are fighting in Parliament based on gender, based on tribes to get people on board. So this is an instrument that can be used by the State,” he said adding that if he nominated to the police commission, he will be an asset because “I will be able to fight corruption through the CID. This will be a much more stronger organisation than giving an amorphous small body all that power and they sit on files.” You can read on the commission’s interviews here.
He said that if nominated to become a member of the Police Service Commission, he will suggest having the CID empowered to tackle corruption investigations in the country as opposed to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
“Criminal Investigations Department is well empowered. We will change the perception by training them and there is the forensic laboratory which is coming. We will have the capacity unlike the anti-corruption which, by the time I left, only had less than 300 staff. Compared to the CID which can investigate corruption anywhere in the country, it has enough staff,” he said.
He is opposed to the CID being misused by the government to carry out ‘dirty’ jobs.
“We will empower the CID to become an elite force, rather than how it is currently when a CID officer can be used to carry out evictions,” Ismail said. He was among the few civilians employed by the commission whose majority staff were police officers seconded mainly from CID.
Yassin was sacked from the KACC in 2008 “arbitrarily” and has now sued the commission for damages.
“I have sued the commission because it did not follow proper procedures to sack me. I am sure of winning the case and I will be seeking damages of up to Sh50 million,” he said. “I left KACC under unclear circumstances, the (KACC) director just told me he had received anonymous complaints about me, none of them was made clear to me. I was just told to proceed on compulsory leave and when I sought to know why I was told my contract had been terminated.” A court case between Ismail and the commission is pending in court.
When Yassin applied and got a job at the Ministry of Tourism, the then KACC director, PLO Lumumba wrote to it saying there are allegations against him, thus denying him an employment opportunity.
“This is pure witch-hunt; they (KACC) can’t keep on writing letters about anonymous issues which they have not even told me. The KACC is becoming a den of witch-hunt. I have a right to work, they can’t tag me on issues I don’t know about,” he said. Read a related story here.
Other candidates interviewed by the police panel on Wednesday included Omar Abdi Ali, Esther Chui-Colombini, Julius Kwanya and Tom Chavanga.
The panel interviewing them includes chairman Festus Litiku, Ahmednasir Abdullahi of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Permanent Secretaries Mutea Iringo (Internal Security), Caroli Omondi (Prime Minister’s office), Paul Mwangi of the EACC, Tororei of the KNCHR and Lydia Gachoe of the gender commission.