BY NAMULONGO PETER,NAIROBI,2ND DEC,2021-Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji has said that constitutional interpretation when it comes to public and state officers stepping aside when accused of corruption is a big hindrance in the war against graft.
Haji who made remarks during a national event on Thursday to mark the International Anti-Corruption Day stated there are still varying interpretations on who a public officer is, a situation he said creates a hurdle when it comes to implementing the constitutional provision.
“The issue of expecting individuals have to step aside once they are charged it is still in the realm of public officers. We are saying governors and politicians should be in a position to do that and if we succeed in that, then the message will have been louder,” said Haji.
Haji said that his office was working with the Judiciary to ensure cases are handles in a timely manner to meet the expectations of Kenyans. He however cautioned that expedited trials have to be done in strict adherence to the law.
“We have modernized to be able to meet the expectations of Kenyans within the law. Even the most corrupt have rights which are within the law but sometimes they derail the process which Kenyans are frustrated about,” he said.
The law upholds a person’s innocence until proven guilty and with the country’s slow wheels of justice, most public officers suspected of corruption have held office despite facing charges in court.
Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi has already rolled out a legislative process to lock out public officers facing corruption charges from either running or holding office.
The Elections (Amendment)Bill, 2021 which is yet to be introduced in National Assembly is also aimed at addressing the spectacle of state officers (elected or appointed) accused of graft from staying in office long after they have been charged with corruption.
Several Governors and lawmakers remain in office despite facing serious charges in court including murder and corruption in what had been blamed on gaps in the legal framework.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the DPP have been rooting for the amendment saying it would give them the much needed boost in fighting rampant corruption in all appointed and elected positions.
Meanwhile, the DPP reiterated that there is no laxity in prosecuting the individuals involved in the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) graft case.
Haji clarified that the prosecution does not rush to cases for the sake of proving to Kenyans that they are working. He revealed that his office was engaging foreign jurisdictions to gather evidence so as to make the case watertight.
“I have explained expressly that investigation are not things that can be one overnight. For example, to get a simple cooperation involving other jurisdictions in terms of tracing the money takes time. If we hurry some of these cases then we would be hoodwinking Kenyans that we are doing something at the end of it will come out clearly that these cases were not ready,” he said.
DPP also stated that ongoing engagements are not primarily focusing on corruption suspects but in recovering money lost through graft.
“For a long time, the practice has been we take case and focus on the individual getting a conviction and he ends up in jail, but the family is enjoying proceeds of crime. This has to stop, and this are something we have agreed jointly with EACC has to be looked at,” Haji said.
DPP urged Kenyans to support the war against graft saying that a lot has been done since 2018.
“We are asking for patience because change is not easy there is a lot of resistance with change. We are determined to ensure we are ding it for the sake of Kenyans and the benefit of the country,” Haji stated.
It is estimated that Sh7.8 billion was embezzled in KEMSA while procuring items in the fight against coronavirus.