Bomas Anti-Corruption Talk Show


By Blamuel Njururi, Kenya Confidential Editor-in-Chief, Nairobi – January 27, 2019

Corruption in Kenya is deep-rooted because MANY people know when it is taking place BUT they keep quiet.
1. Some people allow barefaced thievery to go unpunished for FEAR of losing their jobs. This category includes accounts staff, cashiers and messengers.
2. Some are paid to keep quite and journalists are among this category.
3. Others are collaborators who are paid to aid CORRUPTION – among them Accountants and Auditors,
4. Others aid in hiding the CORRUPTION MONEY stolen from fellow citizens through their Law firms citing client confidentiality. The late Mutula Kilonzo did not care his Parliamentary salary being attached by KRA to PROTECT President Moi STOLEN billions bank accounts. Magistrates and Judges are in this category. They take BRIBES and allow THIEVES to operate SUSPECT bank accounts to hide the money, and,
5. Banks are accomplices as conduits used to hide and launder the STOLEN CASH.
6. Religious leaders are accepting STOLEN public CASH with open arms and praying for THIEVES to steal more.
Lately THIEVES looting Public COFFERS are investing the LOOT in Real Estate, including their palatial homes and Kenyans praise them instead of condemning them as THIEVES – many Governors are in this category.
The main problem is that a majority of Kenyans do NOT consider the MONEY stolen as theirs. They say it is “Government MONEY” (mali ya uma) little understanding that Government has NO money of its own but is a custodian of Citizens’ taxes and LOANS borrowed on their behalf.
The moment Kenyans you, me and all OTHERS concerned about CORRUPTION turn against the social economic evil and EXPOSE the THIEVES of our MONEY – whether they are our relatives, husbands/wives/sons/daughters, BOSSES or friends – the FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION will be 75 per cent WON then Prosecutions can do the rest 20 per cent and Judiciary the 5 per cent of imposing prohibitive and deterrent penalties.
Mourning and cursing that there is no clean politician, civil servant or businessman is a defeatist attitude that does NOT help the situation at all – however abusive.

The same goes for the Chief Justice David Maraga complaining about Friday arrests, bloggers and charge sheets containing 30 corruption suspects. No wonder he got the appropriate dress-down by President Uhuru Kenyatta at Bomas Anti-Corruption Conference-turned a Betrayal in the City – of Nairobi.

When Maraga admonished the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji at Bomas his main agenda was to plant a seed of diminishing public trust in their competence in the War on Corruption. Maraga was angry with the two for openly criticising the judiciary on its handling Corruption cases with gloves in favour of suspects – a view firmly held by the general public that Rich and powerful suspects are using the Judiciary to evade justice.

Indeed, Maraga declared that Corruption in Kenya will not be finished with Friday arrests – a shock treatment perfected by the DCI as a deterrent by would be corrupt public officers.

He also admonished the DPP for listing 30 Corruption suspects on one charge sheet saying they would hire 30 lawyers and the cases would take a very long period. But even if only five were charged on one charge sheet, it would amount to six charge sheets and the suspects would still hire 30 advocates and clog 5 Corruption Courts.

Maraga also complained that paid bloggers were tarnishing his image and that of Judiciary by going to the extent of caricaturing him naked massaging the corrupt – exactly what the Judiciary is doing. Uhuru told him he will have to be used to bloggers because when the government tried to tame them judiciary ruled it was unconstitutional – see the image courtesy Daily Active Kenya.

In a candid discussion on the state of the Anti-Corruption War at Bomas, Kinoti and Haji said lenient bail and court orders were the weakest links in the fight against Corruption. A majority of Kenyans hold the same view.

Kinoti spoke of “strange orders” from the courts that prevented the arrest of certain powerful suspects against whom investigators had uncovered evidence. Orders are also frequently issued to stop Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) from freezing Bank accounts they suspect are loaded with stolen money by the Corrupt – giving them the opportunity to withdraw the money, hide in elsewhere or transfer it to offshore accounts.

Haji said some court orders favoured rich people charged with Corruption, including lenient bail terms that allowed them back to their powerful offices, exposing witnesses to intimidation and theft of important documents and computer records – essential during prosecution. The DPP vowed to take the fight to the Supreme Court to ensure suspects facing graft charges step aside and never set foot in their offices until cases are over.

Mr Haji dismissed the narrative that his office was “overzealous”, leading to the collapse of cases.

“What do people expect us to be? It is an unfair criticism to us. Some people even have a mindset that any investigation that comes is poorly done.

“When we go to court we have the evidence, but there are things that we are asked to disclose because the Constitution says you must give the accused evidence you have against them.”

Haji complained that the legal system favoured the rich in the war against corruption.

“Why can’t everyone be treated the same, mwananchi na walioiba (ordinary Kenyans and those who stole)?

“Umeiba mabillioni alafu sisi serikali tunaambiwa tulipe sisi (You have stolen billions and then the Government is asked to pay for it because the Constitution says so). This Constitution only serves those who steal.”

The DPP said his office, the DCI and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) were spending a lot of money on corruption cases, only to have the suspects released on lenient bails.

“We ask ourselves should this money be spent on investigations or to printing materials for suspects?

“So, in the long run, we go to court and we say: ‘Give us time to get funds,’ for example, but the defence and cartels tell us: ‘You don’t know your job.’ Is that fair criticism?”

Missing level playing field

Haji called for a level playing field in court battles against corruption.

“We are asking that the playing field be levelled for everyone. It can’t be that the thieves get preferential treatment.”

Haji said he would go to the Supreme Court to ask for a ruling that all suspects charged with graft step aside.

“I have been fighting to ask the people that we’ve charged to step aside. That is in the Constitution and we will go up to the Supreme Court if we have to get that ruling.”

He further complained about the numerous court orders granted in corruption-related cases.

“It has reached a point where we are given fake documents. It is not right. We will fight until we get justice and equality.”

The DPP also pointed out the challenges the prosecution was facing in cases involving top county officials, accusing some governors of intimidating witnesses, including sacking those who worked under them.

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DCI Kinoti said that despite having concrete evidence against some individuals, some court orders had effectively prevented him from questioning or recording statements from the suspects.

“Some of the frustrations that pull us down are some strange orders we receive. We are stopped even before we record a statement from somebody whom we know very well has stolen from Kenyans and all Kenyans know we have pursued this person.”

He said he had evidence to prove that he had been stopped from questioning certain people.

He explained that he was recently in the process of pursuing a top official suspected to be involved in Corruption when he received “pre-emptive orders” to drop the investigations.

“We all know and evidence can show we are stopped from questioning certain people by the courts.”

Untouchable suspects

 Kinoti referred to one suspect, Mr A, and said that he had been told not to use the “door” to arrest them.

 “But I found a ‘window’ which was the smoking gun but was ordered not dare touch that person.

“When the orders came, I read them very well: ‘`Do not use the door to go and arrest Mr A.’ I sat down and consulted with my legal advisers, then I said there is a window if I cannot use the door to arrest Mr A, I can use the window.

“When we bring the smoking gun then we are told: ‘Do not even dare touch that person’.”

Kinoti said thieves of public funds were “no better than terrorists”.

“When you steal hospital and development money what do you think you are? You are no better than that terrorist,” the DCI boss said amid applauds by over 2,000 participants.

He compared the current war on corruption to Italy’s fight against the Mafia.

“The war (on the Mafia) was won after the people’s outcry, by the coordination between the police, prosecution and judiciary.”

He assured Kenyans that he would not despair in the war against Corruption.

“We are doing our best as far as investigations are concerned. There are challenges, but these have not reached the point of discouraging us.”

Former judge concurs with Haji and Kinoti

Attorney General Paul Kihara, a former High Court judge, agreed with the DCI and the DPP that some court orders were negatively impacting the prosecution of Corruption cases.

“Court orders that prevent arrest, investigation and prosecution of cases also present a challenge because such orders do not allow the presentation of evidence for determination on evidence.”

Justice Kihara also faulted courts for allowing Corruption suspects to return to work, especially in high-level cases, like that of Chairman of Lands Commission Professor Swazuri Mohammed, saying this risked compromising investigations, evidence and prosecution. Maraga cannot pretend to know that hinders the War on Corruption unless he is a collaborator.

Added Kihara, “A greater challenge that we now face and are experiencing are judgements of the courts that allow the return to office of persons charged with Corruption.”

Kihara was the Judiciary representative during the State House Summit on Corruption and Governance at which DPP then Keriako Tobiko and Judiciary were viewed as the weakest links in the War on Corruption. Judiciary under Maraga remains the main hindrance and the sooner he quit the better.

The conference was organised by the Multi-Sectoral Initiative Against Corruption.

The initiative, which was formed last year, includes various sectors to develop strategies to combat corruption.

It reportedly attracted 2,500 delegates on paper and was to see both the public and private sectors commit to implementing a four-year action plan to fight corruption – those conversant with corruption in Kenya dismissed that as wishful thinking.

“For each of the strategies reported we will ensure that they are implemented. We will also measure and monitor their progress,” said Lee Karuri, a co-convener of the conference.

Karuri frustrated efforts by Citizens Against Corruption presentation during the Conference referring team leader Blamuel Njururi to a Ms Wahu who did not answer calls or SMS messages even after being prevailed upon by the office of the Attorney General and Nation media Group Chairman Wilfred Kiboro.

Citizens Against Corruption had wanted to pitch a Pink Tent to display a wide range of creative anti-Corruption branding. Karuri dismissed the idea saying, “There will be no exhibition” ruled Karuri.

He did no explain what harm or how a display of money-and-jobs-creating products would undermine the conference.

Kiboro had positively responded to Njururi’s idea in a Whatsup message that read; “Hi Blamuel. Thanks for sharing your Concept Paper on how to fight Corruption by raising public awareness through creative branding.

Media are important partners on this journey and we will be hearing their strategies on Thursday at Bomas. I will have a word with the program director tomorrow morning to see if you can be given a slot to address the attendees. Will get back to you. We want everyone on board. Wilfed.”

That was not to happen and Kiboro had, less than 24 hours to the opening on the conference, to prevail upon the secretariat to invite Njururi in a message that read; “I have requested the secretariat to send you an invitation. Please alert me if you don’t get it by this afternoon.”

The invitation was finally sent on Wednesday at 10.43 on the eve of the conference by the secretariat but no slot was available. When Njururi inquired from Wahu at Bomas whether he could be squeezed on the Media Panel, she rudely retorted; “You are very late the panel was selected last week.” That is when she was not responding to calls or text messages and Kiboro’s request was ignored.

The sad part of the Bomas Conference is that Public Participation in the Fight Against Corruption was totally ignored while demands were made on the government to stem corruption. No one came up with any proposal on how ordinary Kenyans, the victims of Corruption, would aid in the war as foot soldiers.

Only Muthoni Kimani of Assets Recovery Agency appealed to Kenyans to report Corruption assets to the agency but she too did not offer anything to whistle blowers. The international practice is to give a certain percentage of money calculated on monetary worth of recovered cash and assets. Corruption fights back and can bribe or kill whistle blowers. Indeed, the Goldenberg whistle blower David Sadera Munyakei was sacked by Central Back of Kenya and frustrated to death. Kenyans are unlikely to risk their lives reporting Corruption for free.

Munyakei blew the whistle on the Goldenberg scandal by providing CBK documents to opposition members of Parliament. These documents revealed illegal transactions between the Central Bank and Goldenberg International. Munyakei was arrested and sacked following his whistleblowing activities. Goldenberg thieves are still enjoying the fruits of their looting but many have died of unexplained ailments while the brainchild Kamlesh Pattni has for all practical reasons relocated to Dubai, where he runs over 200 looting companies.

Citizens Against Corruption, operating as Social Entrepreneurship, has developed a wide range of products that can be manufactured by youth, women and other economically marginalized groups thereby creating jobs, incomes and paving the way to cottage industries that can augment the Big 4 Agenda on industrialization. The drive towards incorporating Kenya citizens in the War on Corruption is unstoppable –  members are making good money and many impoverished Kenyans should.

Blamuel Njururi is veteran corruption investigative journalist. He is Kenya’s first Journalist of the Year award winner for exposing Corruption beginning with the phantom fertiliser factory that never was KenRen in Mombasa in 1975.

Three year later in 1978 he won the Journalist of the Year Award after exposing the grabbing of Veterinary research farm at Ngong by so-called private developer to build Halal slaughter house.

In 2004 he won KUJ-NACADA Journalist of the Year Award for his reports on Drugs and Substance Abuse. 

His investigations into Goldenberg International financial heist led to the ban on Financial Review weekly publication by dictator Daniel Moi regime that subjected him to numerous sedition charges and detention in Industrial Area and Kamiti Maximum Prisons.