, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 18 – The renewed war against corruption is giving Kenyans hope, after seeing big fish from various government agencies spend nights in police custody and eventually paraded in court, unlike before when only junior officials were targeted.
The sweeping arrests and prosecutions by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) have, however, sent shock waves across government offices, as officials in departments under investigation wait for their turn.
“We are not targeting any specific individual or department,” DCI boss George Kinoti told Capital FM News, “We are fulfilling our mandate and that is what we do. Those who find themselves in trouble with the law should clear their names in court.”
The DCI and the DPP’s office headed by Noordin Haji seem to gel down well, in combination efforts that have seen top officials from the National Youth Service and the Kenya Power charged with corruption over loss of public funds.
The latest was the prosecution of 14 officials from Kenya Power—among them Ken Tarus who served as Managing Director and his predecessor Ben Chumo—as well as directors of Muwa Trading, a firm accused of supplying faulty transformers to the power utility firm.
At the NYS, 54 suspects, among them former Permanent Secretary for Youth Affairs Lilian Omolo and the youth firm’s Director General Richard Ndubai were charged and later sacked, over the loss of some Sh468 million paid out to private firms, including some that did not supply anything.
Also charged recently are top officials of the Kenya Bureau of Standards, including Charles Ongwae, who served as Managing Director. The officials were charged over bad fertilizer and fake quality mark stickers.
This accelerated war on the graft monster has been hailed by policy analysts, the private sector and Non-Governmental Organisations, which have however cautioned Kenyans against relenting from demanding for more action.
“It is only results which are going to work as a deterrence to those who are engaging in corruption,” Samuel Kimeu of the renowned anti corruption watchdog Transparency International said when Capital FM News sought a comment from him on the latest developments in a country, often making it on the prime side of most corrupt countries.
Transparency International recent report ranks Kenya 143 out of 180 countries in the corruption index after the country scored 28 percent out of the required a hundred points.
To Kimeu, it does not matter how many people are arrested and prosecuted.
“The results in this regard must be jail terms, fines as well as recovery of asset and particularly recovery of an asset because people engage in corruption to gain economic advantage,” he stressed.
If there is no recovery of resources, he cautioned that the deterrence level will be “significantly diminished.”
On the brutal arrests carried out by police, Kimeu said, detectives should instead focus on building strong cases.
Similar concerns were raised this week by Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter who wondered why police raid people’s homes at midnight.
-About the crackdown-
It was all ‘calm’ until President Uhuru Kenyatta injected new blood within the criminal justice system and warned corrupt individuals to prepare for the worst, when he ordered the suspension of Procurement Managers and Accounting Officers in government ministries and departments to pave way for vetting.
“The corruption culture in this country must end, there is no question about that,” the President said, on June 1.
There is already a multi-agency team drawing officers from the DCI, DPP and the Attorney General’s office, that is working to ensure suspected corrupt officials are brought to book.
The DCI boss Kinoti, DPP Haji and AG Kihara Kariuki have all warned of tough times ahead for the corrupt.
And even as the officials work to nail suspects linked to corruption, their actions have rattled a section of politicians who claim it is members of their communities that are targeted, an argument dismissed by Haji the DPP, “the war on corruption should not be politicized. We charge suspects based on evidence available the rest we leave it to the courts.”