Bosses to answer for crimes of their junior staff, says Haji

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji wants more senior officials to answer for crimes committed by their juniors.

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Haji says they plan to have those in positions of responsibility answerable for the crimes committed by their juniors effecting “command responsibility” mechanism.

Office of the DPP has been in touch with junior government officials who have been “forced” to sign cheques, allowances and other payments on behalf of their bosses, hence the new plans.

National and county government officials serving in junior and senior positions but under “orders” to source cash for their seniors have been compiling monthly reports aimed at instituting prosecutions against their bosses when time comes or when they leave office.

Pending bills

Haji told a conference in Mombasa his office will start implementing the “command responsibility” mechanism where those in position of power direct their juniors to engage in corrupt activities while hiding behind “executive orders”.

The first phase of rolling out of the command responsibility strategy will target senior members of the security agencies who have directed their juniors to engage in acts outside the law.

“This is a ticking time bomb that comes at a time when the national government has been pushing agencies to settle pending bills. If officials in counties and national government did not see it coming, then they should be prepared to be tried before a court of law while in office or when their tenure is done,” he says.

Haji’s past two years in office have, however, not been easy. He has faced resistance from within, received death threats and has been accused of employing theatrics, but he remains unbowed.

“I believe in God, and only God can determine my destiny. So, if I’m destined to die on a certain day, no one can change that. We all have an expiry date and if I have to die for this cause, then so be it. Nothing would be more fulfilling. I am determined to see this to the end, for God and for my country,” he says.

Haji prefers to stay away from power brokers and is careful whom he interacts with to avoid accusations of not being impartial.

The DPP, who was plucked from the National Intelligence Service, believes that the country has the capacity to conclude graft cases within months, just like poll petitions.

“If we have decided that graft is a national issue that needs to be tackled, I think we need more resources to make sure the cases are expeditiously dealt with, by the ODPP and the Judiciary,” he says.

He has been engaging partners in strengthening his office and the criminal justice system in efforts to fight crime. The DPP has been doing this through more training, resources and capacity building.

“Empowering departments, especially in the ODPP, is key in achieving the long-term goals. We are on the right direction,” says Haji.

Part of efforts to enhance capacity building include the recent move by the ODPP to take over a former Senior Police Training Institute in Loresho, Nairobi, to construct the Prosecution Training Institute (PTI).

Haji is optimistic that the PTI will build capacity of prosecutors locally, regionally and internationally.

On Friday, the DPP, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) CEO Twalib Mbarak and Director Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti held a meeting with the British High Commissioner Jane Marriott and US Ambassador to Kenya  Kyle McCarter to deliberate on the progress on the war against corruption.

Ms Marriot stated: “Tackling corruption does not stop because of Covid-19. If anything, efforts increase. Socially-distanced, masked and effective meeting between us and Ambassador McCarter, DPP, EACC boss and DCI.”

McCarter said: “Discussing importance of winning the war on thievery with support of DCI, DPP, EACC and High Commissioner Ms Marriott. We cannot afford to fail. Wananchi are depending on us. Will keep investing and leading on this. Tutafanya #stopthesethieves pamoja!”

When Haji took office, the first victims were Kenya Power officials who were rounded up and detained in July 2018 on suspicion of committing economic crimes and abuse of office.

At the centre of the investigation was the puzzle of how a Sh4.5 billion contract to supply transformers was handled by the company. The investigators cast the net wider to 33 directors of firms that were irregularly awarded tenders.

And since then the ODPP has been probing a string of cases, including the Sh21 billion Arror and Kimwarer dams scandal that saw former Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge among others charged in court.

Took a year to crack

Haji says this was a landmark case as it took almost a year to crack owing to its complexity.

Governors Sospeter Ojamoong (Busia), Mike Sonko (Nairobi) and former Kiambu’s Ferdinand Waititu are facing various charges in court.

Former Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lilian Omollo and other individuals are facing charges for the loss of Sh468 million at the National Youth Service while some Kenya Pipeline Company, Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya Ports Authority staff are facing charges in courts.

Coordination between the ODPP, DCI, EACC, Kenya Revenue Authority, National Environment Management Authority and Independent Policing Oversight Authority, among others, is paying off in the war on graft.

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