Some countries have demeaning penalties for corruption suspects. This is as it should be because corruption impoverishes and dehumanises. But in Kenya, we plead and pray instead of prosecuting lootocrats.
Two cases - from South Korea and Nigeria - stand out. From South Korea, AFP reported the case of the heir to the international electronics brand Samsung. Lee Jae-yong was handcuffed and bound with manila ropes when he appeared for interrogation.
He was accused of involvement in a scandal that sucked in impeached President Park Geun-hye. The Samsung heir supposedly paid $40 million (Sh4 billion) in bribes to a confidante of the President to secure favours.
Ashamed and shy, Lee avoided eye contact with journalists, as he was led into the offices of special prosecutors. He did not respond to questions from journalists. There was a badge on his chest showing his prisoner number.
From Nigeria, AFP reported the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission seized $9.8 million (Sh989 million) from the house of former head of the state oil corporation Andrew Yakubu. The agency reported another £74,000 (Sh9.3 million) was found in the house in Kaduna city. The suspect said the loot was a “gift from friends”.
Earlier, AFP reported, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had been accused of failing to remit $20 billion (Sh2 trillion) in revenue.
It is almost 60 days since retired Archbishop Eliud Wabukala took office as chairman of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, but nothing substantial has been done in the war on graft.
To be fair, the former head of the Anglican Church of Kenya held a press conference, together with other faith leaders who joined the struggle against sin.
At the All Saints’ Cathedral, Wabukala prayed for sinners and warned of the coming damnation. At Integrity Centre, he should investigate and prosecute suspects. For the swing from the Holy Shrine to the House of Sin, Wabukala is paid about Sh2 million a month.
Coming from an office where prayer was the preferred weapon against sin, to one which combines future damnation and secular prosecution, requires reorientation. At the All Saints’ Cathedral, Wabukala’s duties did not include measurable results like a drop in sinning. At the EACC, the taxpayer expects timely investigations and prosecutions.
Need we wait, as for the expected return of the Holy One? Or is the Most Reverend waiting for God’s guidance in his new assignment?
The EACC will soon be clearing aspirants for the August 8 general election. Wabukala will have to confront politicians who use their wealth to subvert and delay investigations. They may have started blackmailing the Reverend.
The Director of Public Prosecutions’ involvement in a corruption case has not woken up the sleeping EACC. The DPP has written to the EACC four times in one case, over two years, asking for a case file.
On July 14, 2015, deputy director of Forensic Investigation at the EACC John Lolkoloi wrote: “The commission has received the same report from the informant and we have initiated investigation to determine the facts.”
The letter, EACC 6/25/1 Vol V ( 61 ) - 51477, was a reply to the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights, which petitioned the commission to act on the matter. The KNCHR/CID/PETGEN/VOL VI/2015 letter of June 30, 2015, petitioned the EACC to investigate “complaints of alleged questionable expenditure of CDF in Karachuonyo constituency”.
By December 15, 2015, the EACC Kisumu regional officer had not assigned the case for investigation, claiming shortage of staff. The case was moved to the Kisii regional EACC office, where three officers have had to “start the investigation afresh”.
A constituency lobby sent a petition with facts, figures, and pictures of ghost project sites. The report cites fake supply of telemedicine facilities at a private hospital, fake power connections, and frauds at dispensaries and schools.
Some of the suspects are running for elective positions. Will the EACC clear the suspects, or maybe Wabukala will pray for them to repent to avoid ‘eternal damnation’?