In an unprecedented move, Kenya’s chief public prosecutor has come out to confront politicians accusing him of targeting certain tribes and communities in his anti-corruption purge.
For the first time in Kenya’s history, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji on Wednesday profiled Kenya’s corruption scourge by tribe.
He sought to poke holes in and discount accusations by leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto that he is targeting Kalenjin politicians and senior government officials in the cases he has filed in court.
Mr Haji made public the list of shame he compiled since he assumed office in April 2018 when he appeared on Citizen TV.
In the list with a sample of 415 people, suspects from President Kenyatta’s and Kenya’s most populous Kikuyu tribe were the majority at 141.
The number of men and women fighting corruption cases from ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Luo tribe come second with 56 while Mr Ruto’s Kalenjin tribe is third with 46.
Both Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, in their newfound 'brotherly love', camaraderie and handshake, have been urging the DPP to go for all thieves of public resources irrespective of their tribe or political affiliation.
Other tribes taking dishonourable top positions in the list that is likely to send tongues wagging and touch off a new wave of political firestorm are Kisii, Mijikenda/Swahili, Kamba and Luhyas with 37, 34, 31 and 29, respectively.
The number of corruption suspects and indictees from the Somali, Indian and Embu tribe is 16, 15 and five, respectively.
The tribes with the lowest number of persons implicated in rent-seeking and theft of taxpayers' money are Turkanas and Maasais, at three and two, while Samburu has only one accused man.
“You are a criminal no matter your tribe; what you have done is steal from Kenyans and you must face the law. It is sad that we are trying to politicize and tribalise (sic) the whole issue here,” said Mr Haji.
The revelations come against a backdrop of accusations by politicians affiliated to Mr Ruto who have time and again claimed that the war against graft is politically instigated.
Led by Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, the leaders have alleged that Mr Haji’s office is being used to scuttle Mr Ruto’s 2022 presidential ambitions.
“I am surprised, this is why I came with this file because I do not want it to look like it’s coming from my head, this is our statistics of accused persons by ethnic tribe….So who am I targeting with all these? I don’t know,” said Mr Haji.
The DPP said those who stole from Kenyans should carry their own crosses and stop dragging their tribes and communities into the cases.
Even though African communities are about ‘Ubuntu’, Mr Haji pointed out that that spirit does not allow room for corruption or crime.
But despite tabling the list, some Kenyans questioned why the DPP did not indicate offices and titles of the suspects.
In the interview, the DPP pointed out that there is no country in the world that is not affected by corruption but added that some states in Europe and Asia regions have graft at manageable levels and Nairobi should strive to achieve the same.
Mr Haji defended the Kamata Kamata Fridays (arresting of corruption suspects at the end of the week), saying it’s an old practice.
His office, he said, has come up with a systematic approach to handle corruption cases in all sectors including health, water, infrastructure and roads.
“We are not just going to charge you then probably get a sentence, put you in jail and go back to enjoy your proceeds of crime 10 years later. What we are doing now is following the money,” said Mr Haji.