By Apollo Mboya
Kenyans are sufficiently familiar with the terms corruption and terrorism, so I do not need to spend time defining them.
But for starters, if you want to know what corruption is then recall the case of a Nigerian found in Kenya two weeks after his deportation. And if you want to know what terrorism is then just look at the attack that occurred at the Westgate Mall.
This is the simplest way to define corruption and terrorism. With attention this week on the attack at Westgate Mall, we must interrogate issues that have exposed the soft underbelly of Kenya no matter how discomfiting this may be.
Empirical research indicates a nexus between transnational crime, terrorism and corruption. However, the connection between terrorist groups and corruption is much less accepted or understood. Border security in Kenya is sensitive because the country has been a victim of, a recruitment platform and transit country in East Africa for, some of the deadliest terrorists.
On numerous occasions, Kenyans and the international community have been treated to stories of alleged terrorists of different nationalities arrested after entering the country. Before and after Kenya sent troops along with other nations to defend the transitional government in Somalia, there have been a number of small-scale grenade and bomb attacks on churches, bars, bus stations, military sites and shopping centres around Nairobi and Mombasa. In June 2012, the police are quoted to have disrupted a major terrorist attack in its final stages of planning; arresting two people with suicide vests packed with ball bearings, grenades and AK-47 assault rifles.
The suspects allegedly led police to a large cache of chemicals used to make explosives hidden at a golf club in Mombasa.
It is no longer a secret that corruption among Kenya’s immigration officers at our border entry points has allowed many illegal immigrants to enter the country. Just to illustrate, a Nigerian was found in the country barely two weeks after his high profile deportation.
For a very long time, transferring immigration officers to different posts was used by the government to deal with border corruption, believing that the same would break the link between the immigration officers and the culprits involved in organized crime. There are also accusations that countless foreigners with suspect backgrounds are embedded in Kenya after being corruptly issued with national identity cards.
Reform of the Security Sector in Kenya was identified as a priority under Agenda IV of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process, and with the promulgation of the Constitution 2010, pieces of legislation were enacted for the establishment of key institutions; the National Police Service as stipulated in Article 243 of the Constitution; the National Police Service Commission as provided for in Article 246 of the Constitution, the National Intelligence Service pursuant to Article 239(6) of the Constitution and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) aimed at ensuring that there is accountability and professionalism within the Police Service. Instead of working in sync, the country has witnessed unco-ordinated relationships between these critical security institutions and a stand-off between the Inspector General of Police and the National Police Service Commission.
Sharp focus is also on the National Intelligence Service, which had wanted not only to be clothed with police powers, including arrest and detention, but also statutory powers of electronic surveillance, which many felt could be misused to erode civil liberties.