1 January 2011

Kenya: Imams Must Lead the War On Drug Menace


Nairobi — A majority of Kenyans had, for considerable time, known that their country was something close to the narco-states of South America.

Like many countries in South America, Kenyans have resigned themselves to the reality that some of the richest businessmen are drug lords, that their security officers are in the payroll of drug barons, that a considerable number of their Members of Parliament are drug peddlers and that drug kingpins are the main financiers of elections in their country deciding for them, in the process, who becomes their leaders.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the drug problems especially in Mombasa, Malindi and Lamu are close to a low level genocide that has the full sanction of the Kenya Government.

Entire generations have been rendered vegetative or completely wiped out; the government knows the drug lords and yet nothing is done about the scourge that is destroying entire communities.

Why I am asserting that the government has sanctioned this genocide? Three reasons. First: The Kenya Government, right to the President, has for considerable time been aware of the drug problem at the Coast Province. Little has been done to date.

The omission or the deliberate refusal to take action can only mean that there is tacit sanctioning of the drug business by the Government of Kenya.

Second, the police at the coast, especially the senior officials, are in the payroll of the drug lords. This is common knowledge. Again that shows the involvement of the State.

Third, in the last General Election, the two most prominent drug lords in the country heavily financed both PNU and ODM. This financing is always on quid pro quo -- I finance your election, you give me protection once you are in office!

I have seen, read and understood the alleged report on the drug menace in Kenya attributed to the American Embassy in Kenya. It is a very factual piece. Disappointingly for me, it contains nothing knew. It merely restates what ordinary Kenyans with no access to State resources and organs know about the drug menace.

The report covers just the tip of the iceberg. The report doesn't claim to be a holistic survey of how widespread the drug problem in Kenya is. In my view, the report covers less than five per cent of the drug problem in Kenya.

What I found most troubling is the attempt by the government to undertake an investigation of the drug barons and then whitewash the kingpins behind the scourge.

Senior officers of the Kenyan police are heading this hurriedly conceived investigation. I find that proposition scandalous.

Every report written on the drug menace starts with the introduction and admission that the police at the Coast Province are in the payroll of the drug barons and provide State sanctioned protection.

That is precisely why the problem has snowballed and reached a crisis level. It is a business carefully nurtured by State patronage.

How can the government authorise the same officers to investigate their accomplices? This, in my humble opinion, is the mother of all whitewashes and a waste of time and resources.

The inhabitants of the Coast Province must stop wasting time in appealing for help from the government. How can help come from a government in bed with the drug barons? It is high time that they resorted to self-help programmes and address their plight at the community level.

The Council of Imams who have been at the forefront in highlighting the plight of drug addicts must provide leadership. It must name and shame the drug kingpins in barazas, in mosques and madrasas.

It must redouble its efforts in both the prevention and rehabilitation phases. It must mobilise the inhabitants of the region to boycott the businesses of the drug barons. The imams must stage sit-ins and demonstrations to fight the menace.

Mr Abdullahi is the publisher, Nairobi Law Monthly

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