22 June 2018

Kenya: Key Institutions Have Failed to Protect Kenyans

Photo: Daily Nation
Integrity Centre, the EACC headquarters.
opinion

As the war on corruption continues, some of the questions that are being asked are: where were the State apparatus that were supposed to keep guard?

For the last one month, the country has been treated to a circus in which contraband sugar and counterfeit goods worth billions of shillings have been found in stores across the country as a crackdown on illicit goods continues.

The media has been awash with a litany of stories on sleaze within the government as billions of shillings are lost in scandalous tenders.

Compromised, ineffective and feigning hopelessness, the institutions mandated with the job of taking care of Kenyans and their interests appear to have been taken over by cartels and tax cheats.

At one point in State House, Nairobi, a seemingly frustrated President Uhuru Kenyatta looked at the officers who had the mandate to fight the vice and told them that he was disappointed.

"If there is one issue that has frustrated me, it is the issue of corruption since the pressure is on me," said President Kenyatta.

"I have removed everyone who has been named on corruption at great political expense. I tell them 'move aside'... or do you expect me to set up a firing squad at Uhuru Park so that people can be happy?"

Behind the scenes was an obvious failure by the same institutions that are now on the frontline "fighting corruption" and turning the tables on cartels that have formed a ring around them.

EACC

A constitutional body with a mandate to oversee the implementation of Chapter Six of the Constitution, the performance of EACC has been questioned for years now for failing to prosecute cases involving millions of shillings.

Also, the commission has had a high turn-over of senior officials since its establishment in September 2011 to replace the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission.

The first EACC chairman, Mr Mumo Matemu, could not take office on time after the High Court ruled that he lacked integrity.

The Court of Appeal later quashed the decision and allowed Mr Matemu to take his oath of office, a year after he had been nominated.

In Parliament, it was claimed that Mr Matemu lacked "passion", with Public Ac-counts Committee chair Boni Khalwale tabling documents claiming that Matemu had failed to collect Sh2.4 billion in tax arrears from a company while at Kenya Revenue Authority.

The matter did not rest there as a new petition was lodged in Parliament by a Mr Geoffrey Oriaro, who argued that Mr Matemu and his deputy, Ms Irene Keino, were incapable of leading the fight against corruption. Both would later throw in the towel, and another commissioner, Ms Jane Onsongo, resigned in March 2015 citing pressure from outsiders on her work at the EACC.

But what caught the public eye was the infighting within EACC. Mr Matemu and his Chief Executive Officer Halakhe Waqo were involved in a bitter public feud and when the chairman suspended the deputy chief executive, Mr Michael Mubea, on alleged malpractice, Mr Waqo lifted the suspension.

Finally, it was Mr Matemu who was forced out as infighting took its toll on the body. It was this discordant body that was supposed to fight corruption and also conduct investigations.

DIRECTORATE OF CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS

On the eve of the promulgation of a new Constitution in 2010, President Mwai Kibaki appointed Mr Ndegwa Muhoro as the new Director of Criminal Investigations, a move that raised eyebrows.

Mr Muhoro had replaced the late Gatiba Karanja.

When he was appointed as the DCI in 2013, then Prime Minister Raila Odinga claimed Independent Oversight Police Authority (Ipoa) had taken issue with Muhoro's integrity, making him unsuitable to steer reform in the force.

When Mr Muhoro appeared before Ipoa, he denied the accusations of interfering with investigations in a previous case but while in office, he was involved in war of words with then Director of Public Prosecutions, Keriako Tobiko, over the bungling of investigations into the Tatu city saga. Finally, and after seven years, it was Muhoro who was shown the door.

DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS

In December 2016, Chief Justice David Maraga hit at the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko and anti-graft agency EACC over shoddy investigations in corruption cases.

"I want DPP, EACC and police to bring rigour into their work if they expect the judges and magistrates to find in their favour. Trafficking accused persons to court to manage political pressure when investigations are not concluded or drawing faulty charge sheets - all which are intended or devised to fail the case and blame the courts should come to an end," said Maraga.

Mr Maraga was not far from the truth - and spoke what was felt by many people. For several years, the office of the DPP had been accused of passing to the courts cases that were bound to collapse or which had serious gaps.

Also, Mr Tobiko had been accused of failing to prosecute clear cases. The most striking was the "chickengate" scandal.

NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE SERVICE

As one of the three national security organs, the NIS is one of the best-funded outfits and its head reports directly to the President. Currently headed by Phillip Kameru, the organisation is being credited for offering raw intelligence about the cartels that had taken over various sectors.

Before Maj Gen Kameru's appointment, the NIS was headed by Major General Michael Gichangi who resigned citing personal reasons.

The reports by NIS were the cause of the frustrations that President Kenyatta faced since some of the ring-leaders involved were from his Jubilee coalition. Faced with a pending election, he probably could not act lest he rocked his own political boat.

KENYA POLICE SERVICE

Always leading in the list of the most corrupt institutions as compiled by the Transparency International, the Kenya Police Service has despite efforts to vet its officers remained unfazed by public opinion.

The amount of wealth, the number of millionaires and the size of day-to-day transactions by police officers emerged during the vetting but few of those were shown the door.

The vetting also revealed that corruption in the chain of command was normal within the service - which had the mandate to police the law and the roads.

KENYA BUREAU OF STANDARDS

Supposed to inspect the goods entering the country and issuance of standards stamps, KeBS is currently under scrutiny after it emerged that it was issuing fake stamps to importers thus allowing contrabands to thrive.

KENYA PORTS AUTHORITY

Corruption at the port of Mombasa is endemic. Here, the barons have ruled with impunity.

Here, unprocedural release of containers is a multi-million business. Early this year, it emerged that some officials had deactivated the usernames and pass-words of two retired employees and used them to clear hundreds of containers.

Over the years, politicians have always sought to control the port through ap-pointment of friendly managers. While EACC had last year promised to undertake lifestyle audit on KPA managers this has been frustrated together with efforts to make the port efficient in the evacuation of containers through the SGR.

KENYA REVENUE AUTHORITY

That EACC is currently investigating 10 senior Kenya Revenue Authority officials, who include two commissioners, over their possible flirtation with a sugar importer that was recently ordered by Court of Appeal to pay Sh2.5 billion to the taxman is the best indicator on what goes on at KRA.

Kenya

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