WARIGI: Immigration clean-up should form part of anti-graft battle - Daily Nation

Immigration clean-up should form part of anti-graft battle

Sunday September 9 2018


Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i. The ministry said it had sacked 28 Immigration officers involved in corrupt issuance of passports and work permits. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Last week, a video of a young Chinese man describing Kenyans as monkeys went viral on social media. There was outrage across the land.

The fellow was promptly arrested and soon after deported. In fact, the widespread feeling was that he should have been punished with a jail term first for insulting the host country.

The ease with which foreigners see us selling our country short inevitably breeds contempt towards us.

How did this Chinese guy acquire a work permit in the first place? To sell bikes? Any local jobless tout can do that business. Our immigration folks should be more serious.

Some time last month, the media reported that a Somali national, Ahmed Fahad Dahir alias Fahad Yasin, had mysteriously acquired multiple Kenyan passports and a Kenyan ID card.


This was no ordinary Somali man, which is the case of many of his countrymen who have over the years secured Kenyan papers illegally one way or another.

This was a man who was described as — no less — the deputy director of the Somali Intelligence Agency. It had become routine for him to slip in and out of Kenya in his aliases whenever he chose. It is a spymaster’s dream.

In our contemporary world of outrageous scandals involving mercury in sugar, or money carted away in gunny bags from the NYS, or Ugandan maize bought by criminal wheeler-dealers who then sell it to the National Cereals and Produce Board at inflated profits as grain from local farmers rots, we should still get shocked that our country’s most precious birthright — citizenship — is being sold by cartels to shady foreigners for cash.

On August 24, the Interior ministry announced that it was deporting scores of foreigners who were working in the country illegally.

The ministry also said it had sacked 28 Immigration officers involved in corrupt issuance of passports and work permits.


I believe the numbers of foreigners already in this country with fake Kenyan papers or illegal work permits are in the tens of thousands, maybe more.

They should not be made to escape the ongoing anti-corruption clean-up in the country.

Like the contaminated sugar that has flooded the Kenyan market, the country’s most sacred entitlement to its people has been put on sale to whoever wants it.

The roster of beneficiaries includes crooks from near and far, contraband smugglers, drug traffickers, human traffickers, gun runners — and terrorists.

Refugees and asylum seekers from Somalia and South Sudan are Kenya’s biggest burden.

It is no accident that these two groups were meant to be confined to Kenya’s largest refugee camps — Dadaab and Kakuma — at least until they can safely return home.

But elaborate gangs of human traffickers who ensure many of the refugees escape the camps and get documented as Kenyans exist.

If they choose to, they can go anywhere in the world with passports illegally issued as Kenyan.


It is not just corrupt Immigration officers at Nyayo House who are complicit in this law-breaking. The web is more intricate.

It involves Kenyan officials at Dadaab and Kakuma, border patrol policemen, local chiefs, clan leaders and a whole chain of others who conspire to bring in and naturalise refugees as Kenyans.

Many from Somalia who have sneaked out of Dadaab easily blend in with Kenyan Somalis in places like Eastleigh.

One way you can catch the foreigners is through their rotten command of Kiswahili.

Refugees are meant to stay in the camps. Those are the rules. They are also not meant to seek employment.


Today, foreigners in Kenya have become so brazen that they are running businesses all over the place, and won’t hesitate to call you — a bona fide citizen — a monkey.

Indian and Pakistani nationals who don’t have work permits have been caught supervising construction work or working at other enterprises in Nairobi.

Chinese workers who came to work on contracts like SGR or the Thika Superhighway never want to leave for home and are now to be found hawking clothes at markets or selling vehicle spare parts in Nairobi’s River Road.

Another bunch of undocumented foreigners — west Africans — have acquired a sinister reputation for being addicted to extravagant living in our towns yet don’t seem to be in any visible employment or business which their Kenyan neighbours can ascertain, except endless partying.


Even the Italian Mafioso have allegedly found a safe haven in our very own Malindi town, and are celebrated as top investors there.

When President Uhuru Kenyatta recently went to meet American leader Donald Trump, the Kenya chapter of Amnesty International released a letter asking White House to put pressure on Kenya on easing documentation for refugees.

I found the letter odd. Trump doesn’t give a hoot about refugees or asylum seekers. In fact he wants to build a wall on the border with Mexico to keep them out.