Death threats will not stop me, says DPP Noordin Haji

Director of public prosecutions Noordin Haji. [File, Standard]

 The Director of Public Prosecutions, Noordin Haji, is taking no prisoners and is venturing into uncharted territory where there are no sacred cows. If he believes he has sufficient evidence, he’ll come for you, whether you’re a governor or hawker. Kelvin Kamau transcribed the DPP’s interview with KTN’s Sophia Wanuna.

What informed the ‘kamata kamata’ Friday operations?

There is nothing illegal about making arrests on Fridays. If anything, common Kenyans get arrested on Fridays too and people know that msako always falls on Thursdays or Fridays. Kenyans know that ukishikwa Friday, utalala mpaka Monday. So, we should not make an issue out of it simply because of the status of people being arrested.

What is your opinion on alternative dispute resolution (ADR), since there have been cases where parties involved seek out of court settlement, like payment in the form of camels even in murder cases. Should serious cases like murder and rape be resolved in this way?

The Sexual Offences Act is very clear that such cases cannot be resolved through. ADR. In murder cases, there have been instances when the Judiciary has agreed to ADR. But my team is totally against this and will oppose such overtures, not when it comes to heinous crimes like murder. A murder case is never about the families. It is the state versus the accused. If we have sufficient evidence, it doesn’t matter whether you are a governor of pauper. If you have murdered someone, you’ll have to face the full force of law.

You have asked the public to be patient regarding Sharon Otieno’s (murder) case, yet the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) had promised to wrap up investigations in three days….

We decided to move the case from Migori to Nairobi to avoid interference with ongoing investigations. There was also the issue of DNA, and in addition to that, secure warrants. So, clearly the investigation is quite involving and there are so many other things to be considered. Maybe the DCI thought it was an open and shut case.  Investigations cannot be driven by emotions on the ground, but by evidence and that takes time. Nonetheless, we will conclude the investigations and charge all the suspects. We are more than ready to prosecute the cases.

Then why arrest and arraign people in court if your investigations are not complete?

We have to look at the public interest also. For instance, if we leave the suspects out there, we cannot guarantee their security. Considering the prevailing circumstance on the ground, we feared there might be interference with the case. We didn’t want another situation like what happened in (Garissa Governor Ali) Korane’s case (where the key suspect purportedly committed suicide in a police cell). There are instances when you need to hold suspects in custody while you carry out investigations. We are not setting a precedent with this and as courts have granted such orders, including cases of terrorism.

What informs the cases you take up and decide to go ahead and prosecute?

We don’t randomly choose which case to prosecute. We look at the evidence. The evidence must pass the threshold test. We also look at the public interest and whether the evidence is prima facie or substantially strong to sustain prosecution. In short, we don’t choose cases, we prosecute what has evidence. For instance, we took a great interest in the NYS cases, but we are  guided by the investigation due to the impact on  unemployment and other sectors of the economy. It was the same case with the Kenya Power case, because the energy sector has an impact on all sectors of the economy. These cases were therefore of great public interest, especially if we want to achieve the Big Four Agenda. The Kebs (Kenya Bureau of Standards) is also similarly important because there implications touching on the manufacturing sector, since counterfeit goods affect our manufacturing sector. We had to therefore expedite that case. On the other hand, the maize scandal cases has ramifications on our strategic reserves and hence had to be prioritised. There are other similar cases in the pipeline. In fact we are soon going to zero in on the health sector.

So your strategy is to focus on the Big Four Agenda?

Our priority is the economy and national security because these two have the greatest impact on citizens.

Does that mean that your office works at the behest of the president, having aligned your prosecutions with the Big Four Agenda?

We have different independent arms of government that are also interdependent as part and parcel of government. I cannot work in a vacuum.  We are independent, that is why we have prosecuted permanent secretaries and even the Deputy Chief Justice.  But the office is also inter-dependent and that cannot be overlooked.

Going after the corruption cartels must be quite a challenge. Do you ever feel like you are making one step forward to recover assets and other proceeds of corruption, but taking two steps backwards losing even more money?

I raised this during the NYS case and brought it to the attention of the Treasury. I’m aware of the initiatives to re-look at how IFMIS (Integrated Financial Management Information System) is accessed with the intention of probably upgrading the system.

What about the demolitions?

I have already instructed the DCI to investigate those who approved the construction of building on riparian land and road reserves. If we find that laws were broken and there were illegal dealings, we’ll take up the cases and prosecute those involved.

Is IEBC a matter you are still pursuing?

The IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) investigations are ongoing at the DCI and EACC. The file has not come to me, but I’m aware of the investigations.

Are you confident that the anti-corruption campaign will bear fruits?

I’m hopeful and determined with prayers, I am sure I will succeed. I think Kenyans have also sensed there is a difference and we are determined to make sure we bring change for the better.

Have you been threatened because of what you are doing?

I have received threats, but this is not the first time. I worked with the NIS (National Intelligence Service) and I received threats from the Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda. They used to threaten even my family. Those threats still exist. Al-Shabaab actually renewed their threats against me. But there have also been subtle threats, like bringing up my father’s name in the National Land Commission case. How come that issue was not raised before the NLC officers were charged? It is a way of telling me to go slow or drop the cases. But I want to make it very clear that I believe in God, and only God can determine my destiny. So, if I’m destined to die on a certain day, nothing and no one can change that. We all have an expiry date and frankly, if I have to die for this cause, then so be it. Nothing would be more fulfilling. I am determined to see this to the end, for God and for my country.

What should Kenyans expect from you?

I don’t want to brag. What I ask for is the opportunity to work and serve my country. I will strive to always be humble and serve Kenyans diligently and with integrity. I believe I will deliver because there is a change and goodwill to fight corruption in the country.