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Noordin Mohammed Haji, the man shaking corruption dynasties in Kenya

By Paul Wafula | Published Wed, August 29th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 29th 2018 at 09:40 GMT +3
DPP Nordin Haji speaks to the press at NSSF house after the arrest of DCJ Philomena Mwilu. [George Njunge /Standard]

Noordin Mohamed Haji is shaping up as the magic bullet that Kenya needs to uproot the monster of corruption that has for years grown too fat and stretched its tentacles too far in the Government.

His first five months in office have been a nightmare for Government officials, parastatal bosses, and now Judiciary staff suspected of dipping their hands in the till.

He is the man to watch.

Just hours after detectives picked up Garissa Governor Ali Korane over the attempted murder of a former finance executive in his county, other sleuths, also with his clearance, were headed to the country’s top court to make the biggest arrest so far.

Mr Haji, like a notorious fly, has been sniffing around Government offices, following leads, and forwarding cases to court faster than any of his predecessors were able to do.

Without causing a change in the country’s law or seeking a huge budget or employing foreign detectives, the soft spoken Haji is relying on the established criminal justice system to sniff out corruption suspects.

His no-nonsense approach to swiftly order the arrest of top Government officials has given fresh hope to the country’s fight against corruption, which until recently had been seen as just another joke.

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Alongside top crime buster George Kinoti, Haji has not only scared top Government officials but also frightened tenderprenuers as he unmasks more and more suspects in his corruption purge. The two have handed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Director of Criminal Investigations, institutions that have previously taken too much from the public coffers, but delivered little to the taxpayer, a new lifeline. 

The writing is also on the wall for private individuals and companies that always went scot-free and left junior public officers, and the unsophisticated accounting officers, to carry the cross, at times for sins they never committed.  

Haji, the son of Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji, has proved that he is his own man and that he has the rare courage to disrupt the status quo.

The arrest of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu yesterday over alleged corruption is perhaps the boldest sign that the country has finally turned full circle. Embattled National Land Commission (NLC) Chairman Muhammad Swazuri, who at one point dared his accusers to face him, was recently picked up from the warmth of his home and charged. Kenya Railways' boss Atanas Maina is also fighting his own battles alongside Prof Swazuri and other NLC officials over alleged irregular land compensation.

The quick hanging fruit to be picked when he took office was the arrest of 15 National Youth Service (NYS) officials, among them its former Director General Richard Dubai, after the institution was rocked by the second round of corruption.

The NYS scandal is the most stinking example of corruption under the Jubilee government. Former Youth affairs PS Lilian Omollo has also tasted Haji’s style of sanctioning weekend and overnight arrests that has seen high profile officials have a feel of remand prisons before they are whisked away to safety to await trial.

Kenya Power officials were among the first to taste his ruthlessness when he ordered the arrest of almost the entire management team, despite the strategic position the utility firm holds on the country.

Haji ordered the ordered the arrest and prosecution of 10 top executives of the utility firm among them the former Kenya Power boss Dr Ben Chumo and the suspended immediate former boss of the utility firm Ken Tarus over Sh4.5billion transformers scam.

He did not just stop at the Kenya Power staff. He also ordered the prosecution of 33 directors of firms who were irregularly awarded tenders at the firm.

Other who have met his wrath are the Former Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero and six former county officials who served during his tenure who were arrested by anti-corruption detectives. Dr Kidero’s son was also arrested a day later over storing and selling adulterated fuel at Ridgeways Shell petrol station in a dramatic week of arrests.

Kidero is not the only governor who is fighting corruption claims in court at the moment. His former counterpart Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong also has his own case to answer.

When he appeared for vetting, Haji promised to face the high and mighty head on even as he appreciated the task ahead.

“It is true that the ‘big fish’ have money and can afford good lawyers to represent them and delay their cases for a long time and eventually justice is not served. I will have a meeting with the Judiciary to address this," Mr Haji said.

One of the strategies he plans to employ is the rotation of prosecutors handling the cases of prominent personalities to deal with ‘high profile’ cases.

Haji, an advocate of the High Court of Kenya for over 19 years is no stranger to the legal system in the country. Having served as a deputy director of the National Intelligence Service, he perhaps understands just how to use the tonnes of intelligence reports being filed by spies around the country every month. 

Before he took office, Haji lamented how the country’s criminal justice system favours the rich, a matter he said he will help fix.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

It is just a matter of time before the quality of his skills as an investigator, security analyst and advocate come to bear when the hearing of the cases start in earnest in court.

Will Haji sustain the momentum in court, with indisputable evidence to cause actual convictions and succeed where others before him have embarrassingly failed or will he be just another prosecutor who will bite too much to chew and exit the stage having lost the bounce in his stride?


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