Extrajudicial executions have no place in State ruled by law

Tuesday May 10 2016

The late businessman Jacob Juma who was killed on May 6, 2016. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The late businessman Jacob Juma, who was killed on May 6, 2016. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MACHARIA GAITHO
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Anyone who has read The Godfather, Mario Puzo’s classic novel on the Mafia, will be familiar with Omertà, the code of silence that mandates death for anyone who snitches on fellow criminals.

It is the criminal underworld’s equivalent of treason, the most serious offence in the Penal Code that in many countries, including Kenya, earns the death penalty.

Criminal groups across the world, be it the American or Italian Mafia, the Japanese Yakuza, the Russian Bratva, the Chinese Triads, or the Kenyan Government, have their own ways of identifying traitors within their ranks and silencing them for good.

They enforce the death penalty with extreme prejudice and will not allow the niceties of due process to get in the way.

Therefore, Jacob Juma had to die. The controversial businessman — if he can be described so — had not only fallen out badly with his partners in crime, but was using his intimate knowledge of their activities to let out all their secrets.

Omertà usually proscribes cooperation with the police or other official agencies. In Kenya, however, the Mafia is the government and the government is the Mafia.

Therefore the red line Juma crossed was not in reporting graft to the police or to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, but in making his information public and, worse, cavorting with opposition leader Raila Odinga.

EXPOSE ON EUROBOND

Maybe the juicy details he was threatening to expose on the Eurobond were all hogwash. But apparently, someone somewhere could not risk him spilling the beans because he was just the sort of person networked enough to get all the facts about how much money was stolen, how it moved, and in whose pockets it ended up.

Now, this may be all guesswork. The only fact we have is that Mr Juma was waylaid and shot to death in what was obviously a well-planned execution, not a random opportunistic robbery.

The only groups in Kenya capable of carrying out such a well-coordinated assassination are government security agencies or teams that have come out of official squads to now serve the private interests of those in power.

Of course, there could also be the Leopard Man theory. In the wake of then Foreign minister Robert Ouko’s assassination in 1990, the powerful Internal Security chief Hezekiah Oyugi started floating the inane spin that the killing was carried out by the then nascent opposition campaign so that the finger of blame could be pointed at the government.

Indeed the State security machinery then started arresting prominent but disgruntled central Kenya figures under the guise of investigating Dr Ouko's murder.

So, it would not be surprising if a similar theory started circulating on Mr Juma’s murder. The problem here is that the opposition is so incompetent that it cannot carry out anything with such precision. And it is so infiltrated by government spies that anything it plans will be known in real time at the National Intelligence Service headquarters.

DEMAND OFFICIAL SECURITY

What can you expect of fellows who demand official security and staff, but do not pause to consider that the bodyguards, drivers, cooks, and watchmen assigned to them are government spies?

Anyway, back to Mr Juma. Unless contrary evidence is produced, we have to conclude that the killing was carried out by government agents.

It is not surprising that Jubilee social media activists have already been primed to come out with all kinds of diversions. He was a crook. He was not an angel. He was spreading falsehoods on the Eurobond. He was just jealous and vindictive because his own shady activities had been blocked. He was an opposition agent doing Mr Odinga’s bidding.

Maybe all that is true, but it does not justify cold-blooded extrajudicial execution.

It is the sacred duty of any government to ensure safety and security for all citizens. It is also its duty to uphold the law and the Constitution and ensure due process in investigation of any crimes and application of punishment.

Mr Juma certainly was no angel. His career as a businessman was littered with activities that make him far from being a role model and upright citizen.

But nobody had the right to try, sentence, and execute him outside the judicial process. Kenya is indeed a bandit nation.

[email protected] @MachariaGaitho on Twitter.