Yesterday, Water CS Simon Chelugui was being grilled by the police over the stalled Itare Dam Project budgeted at the cost of Sh19 billion. The issue of top government officials being arrested and questioned by the police has been the norm in this country since 2013. In the past few years, we have seen the Jubilee government intensify the fight against corruption with the goal of eradicating this vice completely. Many people in senior government positions have been dragged to courts to answer for cases tying them to corruption, money laundering, and tax evasion scandals.
Well, we have had some successes and failures, with some people going to jail while others being let go by the courts. The criminal justice system in Kenya lets these suspects free because of lack of enough evidence.
Most people blame the courts for releasing them, but I have another theory. I believe it is the inadequately trained police officers and investigators who we should blame for this problem. Particularly, their inability to gather enough evidence to build a case against the suspects.
You see, initially in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was no fight against corruption per se. Corruption was there, but no one cared. That means even the police never received intensive training on how to curb the vice. They were only trained on how to use a gun, dress in police uniform, follow orders, and arrest people.
Today, we are living in a different world where the fight against corruption is real, and it is needed. The fight has come at a time when the police have no training. I bet most of the cops working in EACC, DCI, and DPP have no expertise in bringing down money laundering schemes or solving tax evasion cases. Even if they do, they are learning now.
The people implicated in these corruption cases are conversant with finance, accounting, and taxation issues than the police. They know how to cover their tracks.
In the end, the police are left with no choice but to follow orders and arrest them.
That means the detectives don’t get enough evidence to build a case against the suspects, and that explains why Maraga and his colleagues in the Department of Justice throw out some of these cases due to lack of real and adequate evidence.
I know most people in Kenya today are angry at the courts, but not me. My anger is directed to the poorly-trained cops who spend countless hours doing other things instead of gathering real evidence.
My guess is that nobody in Kenya is well-equipped to handle these cases, only foreign investigators like the FBI or CBI. Therefore, if we really want this fight against corruption to bear fruits, the government should retrain the police officers working at DCI, DPP, and EACC on the stated matters. Young and fresh people with degrees in taxation, finance, and accounting should be hired by these agencies to work as investigators. Another option is to hire foreign investigators.