Hamisi Massa: Acting DCI boss says will be polite but firm

Acting DCI boss Hamisi Massa during the breakfast meeting forum for Cooperation on implementation of recommendations by Parliament and county assemblies. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The acting head of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has promised to employ new methods in apprehending suspects of economic crimes.

Dr Hamisi Massa who recently took over at Mazingira House spoke publicly for the first time since taking the reins after George Kinoti opted to leave the position.

While regretting that the Directorate had been politically targeted for doing its work of protecting public interest and assets, Dr Massa told a consultative forum of constitutional commissions and independent offices in the public audit and protection of national resources, to accept that criminal investigations are intrusive in nature and must naturally anger those under investigations.

"We are dealing with serious crimes that affect the lives and livelihood of Kenyans as well as the functioning of government and our future," Dr Massa told the forum organised by the Office of the Auditor General (OAG).

"The reality is that in the course of that we shall summon you and we shall question and may be confine you in one way or the other. We want people to understand that there are consequences as long as you hold public office."

He however said he would take a new approach in high profile investigations.

Kinoti's approach exposed him to political attacks mainly by allies of President William Ruto who felt he was targeting them when Ruto was deputy president.

"We have been accused of being intrusive and personal when we are targeting people in public offices and it is just about protecting public resources and interests," said Dr Massa, adding that it would be difficult to expect a time when the department won't be accused of being partisan.

The acting director said their actions are at times driven by the desire to get credible physical evidence that requires prompt timing of raids, usually informed by their operational intelligence.

Prompt raids, he said, were important because lapses enabled corruption culprits to cover their tracks. But they are not always confrontational, he said, adding that they convince suspects to cooperate based on the evidence in their possession.

"We want to be very friendly and still take you to court while laughing," said Massa while pledging to be very polite but firm in his work.

He also called for an alternative sanctioning regime to deter repeat corrupt actions by barring offenders from holding public office.

He said the department was investigating cases on disposal of public property from the 1970s.

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji proposed a framework between the various government agencies in the sector that would specify the different roles each organisation would play. 

Haji also proposed a peer review mechanism between the various agencies that include the OAG, DCI, State Corporations Advisory Committee, ODPP, Parliament, National Lands Commission (NLC), Commission on Administration of Justice (CAJ), ​Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (PSASB), the Attorney General’s office and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).​

"The absence of a such framework would mean that your reports continue gathering dust," Haji told Auditor General Nancy Gathungu whose office had called the meeting to explore whether there was sufficient follow up on the recommendations of their various reports.

He also warned that Parliament has powers to sanction those snubbing summons to answer audit queries and his office would promptly prosecute such individuals upon request by the House.

Haji also proposed legislation on vetting members of watchdog Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Public Investment Committee (PIC).

George Ojowi, the acting Director of Investigations at EACC said assets tracing and recovery was a key ingredient of a clampdown on corruption.