Stop Kenya’s descent into becoming narco-state

Friday February 10 2017

Suspects (from left) Baktash Akasha, Vijaygiri Goswami, Gulam Hussein and Ibrahim Akasha (partly hidden) with their Lawyer Cliff Ombeta at Mombasa Law Courts on January 23, 2017. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Suspects (from left) Baktash Akasha, Vijaygiri Goswami, Gulam Hussein and Ibrahim Akasha (partly hidden) with their Lawyer Cliff Ombeta at Mombasa Law Courts on January 23, 2017. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GABRIEL DOLAN
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The law is an ass or else it is frequently misinterpreted by donkeys. Many felt such outrage over the two-year delay by the DPP and Mombasa courts to extradite the Akasha brothers and their two accomplices to face drugs charges in United States (US) courts. One can understand the Americans’ frustration as local courts became more and more lenient with bail terms even after the December gang shootout in a Nyali nightclub.

Whether their seizure and deportation was another Donald Trump executive order or a quid pro quo resulting from his decision to sell fighter planes to the Kenyan government is not so important. Most Mombasa residents were just delighted to be rid of them.

However, few will accept Police Commissioner Joseph Boinett’s version that the arrest and extradition was a wholly local affair. Of course he did not explain how a jet plane of the US' Drug Enforcement Administration happened to be idling on the runway of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport awaiting their four special passengers.

Yet, despite tough talk from the Executive, little or nothing has been done to fight drug crime in the Coast since Jubilee assumed office four years ago. In 2014 the Australian Navy seized two ships in Kenyan waters carrying 1,100kg of heroin with a street value of $600m. No one was ever charged with transporting or importing drugs that could destroy the lives of thousands of coastal youth. Ships containing illegal drugs may have been blown to smithereens but the public never discovered the owners or the drug lords behind the shipments. As a result, many query whether the destruction of the ships was intended to destroy the evidence and secure the anonymity of the cartels.

A CONDUIT

Mombasa has been a conduit for illegal drugs from Asia and Latin America for decades. The country looks set to replicate Guinea Bissau as another ‘narcostate’. While campaigning for votes in the Coast this week Mr Ruto used the occasion to announce that Jubilee is waging a new war on drugs. We heard those same futile threats, mantra and promises when Jubilee declared a war on corruption three years ago. We all know where that venture ended. Yet, we should be aware that there is a close nexus between drug crimes and the vice of corruption. The Akasha brothers have been linked by the conservation group Satao to 30 tons of ivory seized in 2015. The same cartels control the ivory trade, grand corruption and illegal drugs. They are well known to police authorities but are protected from on high and boast of friends in the Judiciary.

The indifference by both the ruling party and the Opposition to such mega crime is shameful and suspicious. No wonder that many speculate that the extravagant election campaigns may well be funded by criminal elements who expect remuneration after August 9.

Neither party appears sincere about fighting poaching, corruption or drugs. They are more interested in slinging insults and casting blame on each other. A ceasefire will follow since both sides dread major disclosure. The Americans cannot airlift all the major players so the Kenyan public are left to fight the vice by their own devices.

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@GabrielDolan1