NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 17 – About 10 months since he took oath as Kenya’s first independent Director of Public Prosecutions, Keriako Tobiko is confident that he has set up a foundation for quality service delivery to the country.
His appointment under the 2010 Constitution has given his office the autonomy to conduct its operations independently unlike under the old constitution where he received orders from the Attorney General.
“Although I was DPP under the old constitution, there was no office of the DPP; it was an administrative office. DPP operated under the control of the Attorney General… there was no independence,” he recounted during an interview with Capital FM News.
Independence in decision making and management are the anchor points that Tobiko believes will permit his office to efficiently deliver prosecutorial services to citizens.
He explains that Kenyans should not view him as the ‘old’ DPP since the old constitution had ‘tied’ his hands.
“Yes it is true. I occupied the seat bearing the same name in the old constitution. There is not a similarity in the two positions. This is an independent office now,” he asserts.
Prior to his appointment last year, Tobiko had been the DPP for five years. This is the argument those opposed to his re-appointment brought forward during the grilling sessions for the DPP’s job.
Despite the nerve-racking and tough questions from the recruiting panel as well as at the confirmation stage in Parliament, Tobiko remained steadfast in defending his integrity.
He was among the first batch of public officers who faced the transparent, public, but tough exercise covered live on local television.
Tobiko, Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and former Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza faced the brunt of adherence to the new constitution which required accountability of public office holders.
Corruption, inefficiency and allegations that he was a darling of the political class were some of the tasking claims that Tobiko had to defend himself against.
He recalls that the grilling process was the hardest hitting moment of his life.
“I was still recovering from the punches months after. We were the first appointees to be vetted. There were no ground rules, we were being tested, and we were like guinea pigs. It was a painful process, it was traumatising to my family,” he recounts.
But Tobiko decided to take it positively: “It was a necessary process. I am a far better person now than before I went through that process.”
He spent the first three months after his appointment setting up a new office which is situated at the NHIF Building. First, he had to establish key offices and also an organisational structure which is not explained in the constitution.
“I moved out from the State Law Office with only 90 prosecuting counsel. I did not have any support staff. I did not have those key facilitative offices. We now have a fully fledged office with all the facilitative offices. Then we designed the organisational structure,” he explains.
The office of the DPP has also launched its strategic plan.
Sworn in as the first DPP under the new constitution on June 20, last year, Tobiko aims to develop efficient and effective prosecution services, ‘that is able to offer services to the public impartially … without interference from any quarters.”
Now that he is no longer an ‘agent’ of the State Law office, Tobiko is promising Kenyans that they will see the change they have been yearning for.
He has pledged that the next seven of his eight-year tenure Kenyans will witness a scenario where, ‘big and small fish’ equally face prosecution for criminal acts.
For him, no hooligans will be hidden from the law especially in the build up to the next general election. “Never again will Kenya go the route of the 2007/2008. My office will deal with any person interested in violence.”
Born in Kajiado District on December 12, 1964 – the day Kenya became a republic – Tobiko attended Mashuru Primary School for his Certificate of Primary Education (CPE).
He joined Athi River Primary School in 1979 for his Kenya Certificate of Education (KCE) and then Kanyakine High School in Meru where he completed the Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE) in 1984.
Tobiko’s curriculum vitae is rich.
Among others he has a Master in Law degree from the Cambridge University, England, Bachelor of Law (first class honours) from the Nairobi University and a diploma from the Kenya School of Law.
Interestingly, Tobiko’s striking hobby is his love for hunting and herding, probably emanating from his roots as a Maasai.