Haji: Corrupt judges blocking fight against graft


Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Mohamed Haji
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Mohamed Haji. PHOTO/FILE

In Summary

  • A shortage of staff and poor pay is another problem.
  • Kenya has only 500 public prosecutors in a nation of 45 million people.
  • A junior prosecutor takes home just $600 (Ksh.60,000) per month, compared to MPs who can earn as much as $10,000 (Ksh.8million).

Corrupt judges are hampering an anti-graft drive, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) has said.

According to DPP Noordin Mohamed Haji, they are also undermining President Uhuru Kenyatta’s attempt to restore public trust in the government, national security and the economy.

Also ReadNYS scam suspects to be freed on bond as court declines DPP request

Every year, corruption drains billions of dollars from the State in scandals involving government officials and businessmen.

They are known as “tenderpreneurs” for their success in winning public contracts.

President Kenyatta promised to stop the rot when he came to power in 2013 but critics say he has been slow to go after top officials.

There have also been no high-profile convictions since then. Haji, a former deputy head of national intelligence, is trying to change that.

This week, he charged a sitting county governor for the first time with corruption.

Similarly, in May, over 50 people, most of them civil servants, were charged in relation to the theft of nearly $100million (Ksh.8billion) from the National Youth Service (NYS).

Pre-trial hearings are underway in the case.

Haji, who took over in March, said shortcomings in the judicial system, including bribable judges and prosecutors, could undermine even the strongest of cases.

“If you have judicial officers who have been compromised and they rule against you, the argument will be the case was weak,” he told Reuters.

He further noted that one of his own prosecutors was arrested a month ago on bribery allegations. “We cannot bury our heads in the sand,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the judiciary did not immediately respond on Friday afternoon to a request for comment on Haji’s allegations.

President Kenyatta’s spokesman was not available for comment.

Junior Prosecutors 

A shortage of staff and poor pay is another problem. Kenya has only 500 public prosecutors in a nation of 45 million people.

A junior prosecutor takes home just $600 (Ksh.60,000) per month, Haji said, compared with MPs who can earn upto $10,000 (Ksh.8million).

“I only have a handful of lawyers who can prosecute corruption cases,” he said.

After 19 years in the intelligence services, Haji said he had seen first hand how graft compromised Kenya’s security.

For example, militants from neighboring Somalia crossed the border on passports obtained through bribes.

Corruption has also cost lives through skipped red tape, he said.

This week, Haji charged nine businessmen and officials with manslaughter after the Patel Dam burst, killing nearly 50 people.

Also Read: Patel Dam owner Perry Mansukh to spend weekend in jail

Kenya had laws to prevent such disasters, Haji said, “but because of corruption it was all ignored.”

 

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