If you thought this year was tough for graft lords — it was just an appetiser — wait for the main courses in 2019.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has pledged a tougher year for graft kingpins, pledging a relentless war against corruption.
Haji, who has been in office for nine months, termed this year ‘s arrests a curtain-raiser.
He echoed President Uhuru Kenyatta who sent a chilling message on December 12, promising that graft lords will pay dearly for “every looted coin”. “This is a curtain raiser for a bigger roller coaster ride next year,” the DPP told the Star in an interview at his home.
Despite opening a new chapter in Kenya by holding to account high-flying government officials, the DPP is not satisfied. He says he could have done more in the nine months he has been in office.
As a result, he has kick-started the sealing of the loopholes that slowed him down. He has hired an army, 200 additional prosecutors to bolster his work. “Hopefully, by March, they should be at work. I have introduced a three-month induction course, everyone has to undergo the training to sharpen their prosecutorial skills,” Haji said.
He said that since he took office, no suspect has attempted to bribe him to compromise his investigations.
Building this new wall of integrity is in contrast with past DCI officers who have admitted being offered millions by graft suspects to bungle probes.
“Nobody has had the guts to call me,” Haji told the Star. “I am reclusive. I don’t go to clubs and I don’t drink. So there are very few people that I interact with and I think that has helped me to be unapproachable.”
But the DPP fired a warning salvo to those who might offer bribes. “Going forward, we have agreed, because there is the Bribery Act, that if somebody ever attempts to do that, we are going to prosecute them. Even a call from a Minister or whoever, saying go slow on this one — we would deal with them,” the DPP pledged
For the first time, Haji confessed that the decision to arrest and charge Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu on August 28 was difficult but had to be done in the interest of justice. “We looked at the pros and cons. If I was to sit on the file for another two years and wait for an opportune time, the argument [against charging] would still be the same — that this is about ‘revisiting’,” the DPP said. He was referring to claims Mwilu was being punished for voting to nullify President Uhuru Kenyatta’s election victory. The President himself said the Judiciary would be “revisited”.
Haji said Mwilu’s case could not be handled by the Judicial Service Commission, since it’s a criminal offense and not gross misconduct.
We consulted with the CJ. He appreciated I had a mandate and I had to go ahead,” Haji recalled. Minutes later, Mwilu was arrested in a shocker to the Judiciary and the nation.
Haji calls himself a champion of judicial independence and the Mwilu arrest has not in anyway spoilt his relationship with the bench.