NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 24 – Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has vowed to ensure that public officials facing corruption charges step aside from office until they are cleared.
Haji argued that the officials’ continued stay in office is a threat to the cases since they are likely to intimidate witnesses or tamper with active cases.
The tough-talking Haji stated that he is determined to go to the Supreme Court to get a ruling which will ensure no official goes back to office even after being released on bail.
“I have been fighting to ask those people we have been charged to step aside; they must step aside and that is in the Constitution and it is a right that we must have; we are not pleading… we charge you; you step aside and we will go all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to get that ruling,” he vowed.
He cited Migori Governor Okoth Obado who is facing a murder charge and is back in office after meeting bond terms.
“As Kenyans, you will blame us that we have taken some governors to court, we have charged them, but they are now back in office. We have charged two governors; one for murder and another one for corruption now they are walking outside there intimidating and threatening witnesses especially those working in their counties,” he said.
Muhammad Swazuri of the National Lands Commission is also back in office despite taking plea in a corruption-related case.
Haji spoke at a conference organized by the Multi-Sectoral Initiative Against corruption at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi, also attended by Attorney General Paul Kihara, Director of Criminal Investigation George Kinoti and the new Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Chief Executve Officer Twalib Mbarak.
On his part, the AG said the government has achieved significant progress in the fight against corruption since the establishment of the Multi-Agency Task Team despite few coordination challenges which the team is working on.
The leader of the team urged the public to be part of the war on graft because it is a national fight.
“This fight is not about our President and we need public participation in every step that we take. We urge all of you to be part of it and I am so proud of the private sector for organizing this forum to discuss corruption,” Kihara said.
So far, he said, 549 corruption-related cases have been prosecuted between 2013 to 2018 – including high profile cases, with Sh3 billion worth of assets acquired irregularly, recovered.
It was a different script however for the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti who expressed disappointment over restraining orders that bar arrests.
The DCI said his department is determined to fight the corruption monster but is always hindered by court orders.
“The fight on corruption is great as far as investigation is concerned but one thing, I can say is that we are facing frustrations which really pull us down like restraining orders that we get stopping us to even record a statement or arrest people who we really know they have stolen from Kenyans,” he said.
The newly appointed EACC boss pledged to work closely with the DCI and the DPP to eliminate corruption in the country.
The conference will continue Friday with the representatives from the Judiciary expected to speak on corruption and how they plan to handle corruption related cases as the war against the vice intensifies.