NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 1– Twenty-four individuals among 20 civil registration officials arrested on Friday as police launched a manhunt for cartels behind the inordinate delays in the processing birth and death certificates.
Police also arrested four officials at a Nairobi health facility identified as St Francis Hospital.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi who spoke after National Police Inspector General Hilary Mutyambai ordered the arrests vowed to dismantle cartels soliciting unauthorized fees from applicants before issuing the crucial documents.
Birth certificates are particularly crucial for candidates sitting for Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) exams – Kenya Certificate Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) – being part of registration requirements.
“I am saying this, and I repeat that you do not have to be told stories of see me in the afternoon or buy me tea when you are going for these documents. This kind of behavior will not be tolerated. We must serve the public as decent and responsible servants and we are going to be very stiff on this,” Matiangi warned.
Matiangi who was accompanied by his ICT cabinet colleague Joe Mucheru, Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho, and IG Mutyambai at ACK Bishop House where the main birth registry is station vowed to root out a clique of registrars, he said were deliberately slowing down ICT systems to create an artificial backlog.
“We have done almost everything in the last one year and a half we have tried all manners of tricks, transfer of some people, trained them and giving them pep talks and urged them not to frustrate our people but as you can see all that fell on deaf ears because they decided to turn this department into their personal business,” he said.
IG Mutyambai had earlier in on Friday issued a statement listing twenty-four individuals as persons of interest in ongoing investigations.
He’d asked them to surrender to police for investigation.
“The government officials being sought should present themselves if not arrested,” he said.
Mutyambai pointed out that the officials engaged in corrupt practices and delayed the issuance of certificates demanding to be paid unauthorized fees by applicants.
He said more suspects will be arrested and brought to book as investigations continues.
“Government services are not conduits for brokers and criminals to enrich themselves by conning members of the public,” the police boss asserted.
He added that, “the police will not relent until each and every criminal is apprehended and faces the law.”
While it has not been established who was arrested on Friday, those being sought after included Paul Kagiri (Deputy Director), Charity Mwandime (Principal Civil Registration Officer), Jane Wangari (Principal Civil Registration Assistant), Patrick Sila (Civil Registration Officer 1).
Mutyambai said they are “part of the cartel aiding and abetting the irregular and illegal issuance of birth certificates.”
The arrests come after a week of reforms at the birth registration offices supervised by CS Matiangi.
The government had earlier urged Kenyans to apply for their birth and death certificates using the e-citizen platform, an online public service portal, adding that applicants would have their documents processed the same day.
Nairobi Regional Commissioner Wilson Njega said the online platform which became operational in January will reduce long queues in the various Huduma Centers.
He however said individuals will have to present themselves physically to collect the documents.
“We will ensure the process of issuing the certificates is easy for Kenyans to stop making long queues during the collection.”
He stated that the initiative will also reduce irregularities by corrupt officials who prey on unsuspecting applicants.
Njega appealed to over 21,000 Kenyans to pick their certificates he said were lying uncollected to reduce congestion in their storage facility.