GRAFT FIGHT

Haji: Kenyans stole Sh224 billion in three years

Seven CSs and PSs, 11 governors and senior county officials were charged with corruption.

In Summary

• In corruption cases, the conviction rate increased from 37.4 per cent in 2018 to 60 per cent in the first half of 2020.

• ODPP has 996 employees which are argued to be slowing its operations as the number is below the required capacity of 2,156.

President Uhuru Kenyatta receives a report from DPP Noordin Haji at State House, Monday November 9, 2020.
President Uhuru Kenyatta receives a report from DPP Noordin Haji at State House, Monday November 9, 2020.
Image: PSCU

Taxpayers have lost Sh224.5 billion since the Jubilee administration took office for a second term in 2017 to mid this year, a report by the public prosecutor shows. 

The money was lost through corrupt deals involving various projects and procurement activities.

The office of the Director of Public Prosecutions has successfully prosecuted cases worth Sh3.9 billion — paltry 1.7 per cent of the money lost by June.

Convictions accounted for 91.9 per cent, acquittals were 5.4 per cent and withdrawal 2.7 per cent.

The DPP's report, which was handed to President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday, shows that cases worth Sh157 billion were registered between January 2018 and June this year. The other Sh67 billion worth of cases were recorded in 2017 and before.

Despite Uhuru' ruthless war on graft claiming top state officials, among them Cabinet secretaries, principal secretaries and governors, the pace of prosecution has been slow.

In the last two and half years, seven CSs and PSs were charged for corruption while 11 governors and senior county officials were also arraigned.

At least 22 chief executive officers of government agencies were charged, seven MPs, five MCAs and one deputy county commissioner were charged with corruption.

Of the graft cases pending in court, 57 per cent were registered between January 2018 and June this year while 43 per cent were registered before 2018.

DPP Haji said on Monday he was confident they have made progress in the graft fight with an average conviction rate of 63.16 per cent.

A total of 220 cases were registered during the period under review. At least 26 of these were registered as of June 2020; 78 in 2019; and 116 in 2018.

“This (number of cases in court) was a clear illustration of the concerted efforts put by the office in collaboration with other stakeholders in the fight against graft for the three years,” the DPP said.

According to the report, 238 cases were concluded of which 20 were dispensed of as at June 2020; 103 in 2019; and 115 in 2018.

“This record of conclusion of corruption cases is attributed to the strategies employed by ODPP in the fight against corruption,” Haji said.

Three years ago, President Uhuru made drastic changes at the office of the DPP and Directorate of Criminal Investigations, appointing Haji and George Kinoti respectively to rid the country of graft.

The shake-up was extended to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission where Twalib Mbarak – a military intelligence officer took over the reigns.

The agencies brought in the Kenya Revenue Authority; Financial Reporting Centre; and Asset Recovery Agency in a plan ‘where each agency effectively executes its mandate.’

A chunk of the reported cases, with a monetary value of over Sh143 billion, were registered in 2019 alone, among them 13 which involved Sh100 million each.

Part of the top cases last year was the Kimwarer and Arror dam scandal, which involved Sh63 billion.

Nine suspects, among them Kerio Valley Development Authority boss David Kimosop, were charged with abuse of office, willful failure to comply with procurement laws, and conspiracy to defraud the government.

They were also charged with engaging in project implementation without proper planning and unlawful procurement of services of Italian firm CMC Di Ravenna.

Last year’s cases were an upshot of over 600 per cent compared to the Sh18 billion that was registered in 2018.

Top government officials accounted for 53 of the cases reported between 2018 to June 2020.

Seven of these cases involved CSs and PSs, whereas 11 involved governors and county officials.

Former Treasury CS Henry Rotich; ex-Treasury PS Kamau Thugge; ex-EAC PS Susan Koech; ex-Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe are among top officials who were kicked out of government on graft charges.

Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, Ferdinand Waititu – formerly of Kiambu, Busia’s Sospeter Ojaamong, Migori’s Okoth Obado, Tharaka Nithi’s Muthomi Njuki, Samburu’s Moses Lenolkulal, and Garissa’s Ali Korane are among high-profile county officials charged with graft.

The DPP reported to the President that 48 cases involved figures of over Sh100 million each.

There are 24 cases totalling Sh105 million which involve between Sh1 million to Sh9 million as well as 40 of Sh1.7 billion which involve between Sh10 million to Sh99 million.

About 132 matters are cases whose amounts cannot be quantified, with the report showing that the DPP achieved an overall Sh61.2 per cent conviction rate.

President Uhuru, while receiving the report on Monday, asked the DPP to focus on state officers misusing public resources.

He said successful prosecutions will inspire Kenyans' confidence in the war against corruption. 

According to the report, the conviction rate has increased from 37 per cent in 2018 to 63.1 per cent in the first half of 2020.

A total of 26 cases accounting for Sh1.25 billion were registered as of June 2020; two of which involved over Sh100 million; one of Sh7.5 million; and four cases of Sh144,000. The other 19 are of amounts that cannot be quantified.

Haji further praised the progress made in recovering stolen public assets, mostly through plea negotiations.

Among them was land of Sh2 billion belonging to the University of Nairobi and that of Racecourse Primary School of about Sh700 million.

The DPP told the President that slow judicial processes; legislative gaps; inadequate witness facilitation; underutilisation of technology; and state officers remaining in office after being charged as slowing the wheels of graft fight.

In 2018, the DPP yielded conviction for amounts totalling Sh522 million. Cases of Sh77 million were acquitted while those involving some Sh42 million were withdrawn.

In 2019, the office attained a 96.3 per cent conviction rate for cases involving Sh2.8 billion. Cases involving Sh65 million were withdrawn whereas those of Sh45 million were acquitted.

In the first half of 2020, the DPP managed a 71.2 per cent conviction rate for cases involving some Sh225 million whereas Sh91.5 million were acquitted.

Haji attributed the increase in the conviction rate to prosecution-guided investigations, the use of experts and analysts, the establishment of joint teams, adoption of research, enhanced witness facilitation and protection.

He further cited utilisation of modern technology, training and improved cooperation and collaboration between agencies as some of the measures that bore fruits.

Sirisia MP John Waluke’s conviction in the cereals board maize case topped the list of successful convictions reported during the stated period.

The lawmaker was convicted alongside Grace Wakhungu mother of former Wildlife CS Judy Wakhungu, and is out after on bail appealing the ruling which required them to pay about Sh1 billion each.

“Corruption remains the most resilient and destructive crime in our society. It thus presents the greatest threat to our survival as a viable nation and threatens to rob our future generations of their right to a prosperous society,” Haji said.

 

(edited by o. owino)