NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 4 – A section of senior lawyers have waded into the raging debate on a perceived conflict between Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and his Public Prosecutions counterpart Noordin Haji, a day after their officers expressed sharp differences in court.
Differences between the two, once bosom buddies, are said to have escalated in recent days, a development that has attracted mixed reactions from lawyers.
On Tuesday, officers from the Haji-led prosecution agency and those from the DCI clashed in court over the status of an ongoing investigations against Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) Managing Director Daniel Manduku leading to the release of the port authority boss after Haji declined to approve charges.
Prosecutors told the court, DPP had advised detectives to free Manduku but the latter produced him in court nevertheless.
Senior Counsel Prof Tom Ojienda Wednesday said such a tiff, if any, is good for the rule of law in the country.
He said investigators would, as a result, be compelled to craft watertight cases.
“The clash between the DCI and the DPP is healthy for the Rule of Law in this Country. The two Complement each other in Presenting proper cases with a proper evidentiary foundation to Court,” Ojienda said in a tweet.
In a quick rejoinder, his counterpart Ahmednasir Abdullahi said the alleged clash between the two key players within the criminal justice system is imaginary since detectives only appear in court as witnesses.
A senior detective based at the DCI headquarters could not admit or deny reports of a split between Kinoti and Haji, simply saying “there are issues.”
He added, “we (DCI) are facing a lot of resistance,” without divulging further details.
But according to Ojienda, Hajji and Kinoti are simply looking for a ‘perfect’ way to deal with emerging issues now that their mandate is well outlined in law.
“They are merely finding a perfect balance,” lawyer Ojienda said.
On Tuesday, Manduku was produced in court alongside other co-accused persons but his name was not listed in the charge sheet produced by Gituathi Njoroge, an investigating officer who appeared for the DCI in court.
The ugly situation was rescued by Presiding Magistrate Kenneth Cheruiyot who said he had no court file to record the proceedings in the matter.
The two have been leading faces in the renewed efforts by President Uhuru Kenyatta to save a third of Kenya’s budget from vicious graft cartels.
At least Sh800 billion of Kenya’s budget is lost annually to corruption according to US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter.
While Kenyans have witnessed dozens of arrests, Kinoti and Haji are yet to secure convictions in prominent multi-million graft cases.
The cases have been executed at a snail’s pace.
President Kenyatta is on record saying the arrests have so far acted a deterrence measure.
Chief Justice David Maraga has however been on record saying, “the war against corruption will not be won by Friday arrests,” in refence to dramatized arrests of top officials by DCI, mostly on Fridays to circumvent a legal requirement requiring suspects to be produced in court with 24 hours of their arrest.
But what will a faceoff between Haji and Kinoti mean in his effort to slay the graft dragon?