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Sparing no effort in drugs crackdown a plus for Kenya

COMMENTARY
By Faith Munuhe | October 4th 2019

In May 2000, Kenyan citizen Ibrahim Akasha was murdered by a man on a motorcycle as he roamed Amsterdam’s red-light district. His body was flown home to Mombasa and buried in his luxurious Nyali home.

By the time he was killed, Akasha had acquired money in bank accounts across the world valued at Sh500 million, in addition to mansions and luxury cars. Almost 20 years later, his two sons had built a huge drug empire based on what their father started. However, justice is finally being served.

Until recently, the Akasha boys were in control of a vast network of sea routes encompassing Mombasa and Malindi as they dealt in cocaine and hashish as well as other narcotics. For many years, port officials were bribed to look the other way as drugs packed between flowers and other seemingly innocent goods were shipped in and out of Kenya.  

Due in part to the widescale smuggling network built by the Akashas, Kenya became for some time a hub of the illegal industry as drugs came in from Colombia and were repackaged before being distributed in Europe and the rest of the world via the Suez Canal. State officials and others who knew of the business thought for a long time that the Akashas were untouchable. But that is not the case anymore.

This happening even as Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai revealed recently that Kenya was no longer the hub of trafficking and transition, but rather, a consumption hub.

As is usual, those behind the trade are rich and powerful, necessitating concerted efforts to address the menace.

Life in prison

Such efforts should ensure that corrupt men will no longer be able to operate with impunity. The Government co-operated with US officials to extradite the brothers to be tried in the US after seemingly running rings around our investigative and judicial officers.

As they await the verdict, which can carry a sentence of up to life in prison, the Kenyan people can rest assured that our streets are being made safer with each resolute step against corruption in illegal goods smuggling.

The war on drugs is now being undertaken at the highest level of government and that is yielding fruit.

Last year, Kenya was a key participant at the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and African Union Demand Reduction Conference where Internal Security CS Fred Matiang’i outlined what customs authorities and the security agencies were doing to step up the war against narcotics.

The Government is seeking to make Lamu entirely drug-free by stepping up efforts to arrest and prosecute everyone involved in the business. The drug trade is a get-rich quick scheme that inevitably leads to an increase in crime, corrodes societal values by making honest work not to count for much.

Smart move 

Drug trafficking is a global phenomenon that, unfortunately, Kenya has become a part of. It would also help a great deal to enlist the help of other nations facing the same problems. Perhaps no nation has suffered as much as the US from the ravages of illegal drug use. They are also the leaders in fighting it. That is why working together on this issue is a smart move. 

In June, DPP Noordin Haji left with Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti for the US to meet with the Attorney General and FBI director. The meetings covered corruption, counter-terrorism, organised crime, drug trafficking, human trafficking and intelligence sharing. Drug-trafficking topped the list of discussion.

Whereas a lot of what constitutes international co-operation is on trade partnerships which then leads to stronger and thriving economies and communities, the need to work with other nations to fight the darker issues that the nation faces is also important.

With the US as a partner, the Akasha brothers may well languish in prison for many years to come.

It will serve as a warning to all other individuals, whether they be big or little fish, who seek to take advantage of previous regulatory shortcomings in the country.

Noticeably, Kenya has been lauded in South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia for taking the lead in fighting terrorism in the region.

Smuggling and drug-trafficking goes hand in hand with the funding of terrorist networks and we must employ legal systems to bring it an end.

As we vie for a seat at the UN Security Council next year, legal action against drug barons will show the world that we will not let anything getting in the way of Kenya to becoming a safe, secure nation.

Ms Munuhe an international relations student at University of Nairobi.

 

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