Noordin Haji, the proverbial mouse who belled the cat
By Killiad Msafiri | March 13th 2020
A story is told of a marauding cat
who would make forays into mice territory and rain havoc on the micedom. These
continued incursions were of no good to this rodent species.
The parachuting death toll following
the invasions now threatening the murids of extinction, something had to be
done. Urgently. So a meeting was convened to deliberate these mishappenings.
Getting up to suggest possible
solutions, both young and old, noble and commoners of the micedom spoke. At
last, a mouselet who had been keenly following the discourse also rose to
speak, as Aesop would narrate;
"You will all agree,"
said he, "that our chief danger consists in the sly and treacherous manner
in which the enemy approaches us. Now, if we could receive some signal of her
approach, we could easily escape from her. I venture, therefore, to propose
that a small bell be procured, and attached by a ribbon round the neck of the
Cat. By this means we should always know when she was about, and could easily
retire while she was in the neighbourhood."
A proposal that was met with
raucous applause until an old mouse cut short the merriment with these sinking
words, “who will bell the cat?”
Unlike his predecessor, the tough
talking Noordin Haji is a man who many would say has balls of steel.
“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 in one of his
interviews after he took the wheels at the Office of the Directorate of Public
He was a man on a mission. A hunter
warming up to make kills, not just ordinary kills. From the onset, he left no
room for doubt that he would be preying on big cats. Noordin Haji was the
proverbial mouse who would bell the cat.
Well, did he?
It did not take long for Mr Haji to
qualify his words with real action. In 2018, the DPP officially took office in
April on a Tuesday but it was on one Saturday in July when he shook the Kenya
On that day, detectives from the
Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) arrested former Kenya Power CEO
Ben Chumo on suspicion of committing economic crime and abuse of office. DPP
Haji also ordered the arrest of 10 senior managers of the firm including the
acting CEO Ken Tarus.
At the center of this directive was
the puzzle of how a Sh4.5 billion contract to supply transformers was handled
by the company. This net spread to 33 directors of firms that were irregularly
awarded tenders in what was suspected to be a scam in the supply of tenders.
At the time of his arrest, Dr Ben
Chumo was a presidential nominee to chair the Salaries and Remuneration
Commission (SRC). He was also the chairperson of the Egerton University Council
having been appointed to this role in 2017 by then Education Cabinet Secretary
Barely two months after these
charges, a major scandal involving a senior politician rocked the country.
Sharon Otieno, a Rongo University student was found dead with stab wounds in
Kodero Forest, Homa Bay County.
The pregnant sophomore had been
reported missing after being abducted together with Nation journalist Barack
Oduor. The reporter was said to be pursuing an alleged sour love relationship
between the student and Migori Governor Okoth Obado.
“Investigations are ongoing, and at
the right time when we feel that the governor needs to be arrested, then that
will be done,” the DPP said. “I want to assure the Kenyan public that this
incident will be investigated and in the next two or three weeks, we will look
into setting up a public inquiry into these matters.”
Indeed, after much public outcry, the governor was arrested and charged with Sharon Otieno’s murder. He was arraigned alongside his personal assistant Michael Oyamo and Caspel Obiero, a clerk at the Migori County Assembly.
Arror and Kimwarer dam scandal
Let’s deal with facts only. More
than 19 billion was lost in the Arror and Kimwarer dam scandal in a “well-choreographed corruption
syndicate orchestrated by officials in the National Treasury,” said Mr Haji
according to evidence his office had gathered.
The former spy said the scandal
passed as one of the biggest corruption heist in recent times where government
officials connived to loot public coffers through flouting procurement laws,
grossly inflating the project’s cost and paying billions of shillings for
services not rendered.
The National Treasury was
specifically placed on the spot for releasing Sh643 million to compensate and
resettle people affected by the project. There was however no evidence to show
that there was any land that was acquired by the government.
The National Environment Management
Authority (NEMA) boss Geoffrey
Wahungu was also shortlisted for giving a go-ahead to the project despite no
assessment being carried out. The Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) was
implicated for circumventing the tendering process to award a contract to
Italian based company CMC di Ravenna.
To cut the story short, DPP Haji
ordered the arrest of the powerful Treasury CS Henry Rotich and his PS Kamau
Thugge. Senior NEMA and KVDA officials were also arrested for their part in the
The arrest of Philomena Mwilu
President Uhuru Kenyatta’s
declaration of war on corruption indubitably revolutionized the office of the
DPP. This time, a stern Mr Haji went to the second highest office in Kenya’s
Accompanied by DCI boss George
Kinoti, the two picked Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu from her Supreme
Court office to the public’s amusement. “I must say
that I have never heard of an arrest taking place within the precincts court,”
said Prof Tom Ojienda.
Arriving early morning at the
Supreme Court premises where the Judicial Service Commission was holding a
meeting, Kinoti and Haji summoned Chief Justice David Maraga and later DCJ
Mwilu out of the ongoing meeting.
Later in the day, Justice Mwilu was
ushered in a DCI car and driven off in a motorcade of four cars flanked by DCI
boss Kinoti and DPP Haji. The DCJ was accused of abuse of office, accepting
money in the form of a gift, failure to pay taxes, and obtaining by false
pretext security belonging to Imperial Bank – which was placed under
“There can be no justice if
lawyers, prosecutors, magistrates, judges and investigators, who are court
officials, use their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of Kenyans,”
the DPP said.
So far so good?
The office of the DPP appears to
have been rejuvenated, thanks to what political analysts will call ‘political
goodwill.’ What has been clearly visible since Noordin Haji took office is the
coordination between his office, that of the DCI and the Ethics and
Through this partnership, case
files have been opened for several ‘big fish’ like the former Nairobi Governor
Evans Kidero, Garissa Governor Ali Korane and his Nairobi counterpart Mike
Sonko. Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu who is facing graft charges has since
been impeached while Embakasi East MP Babu Owino is facing murder chargers.
Former Youth affairs PS Lilian
Omollo who, with others, is facing charges of the loss of Sh468 million at the
National Youth Service (NYS) has had her accounts frozen. Former National Land
Commission Chairman Muhammad Swazuri was arrested over some Sh109.8 million
that was meant for land compensation for residents affected by road
construction in Mombasa.
The weak link?
While most of the DPP’s arrests
have been largely publicized on several media platforms, the public is yet to
witness a major conviction. Attorney General Paul Kihara once accused the
Judiciary of being the weakest link in the graft war.
“Don't use the Judiciary as a
scapegoat. That one we will not allow. If you bring weak cases we will tell
you. The public will judge us. We will not allow scapegoats and Wanjiku is
tired of games,” CJ Maraga fought back.
DPP Haji’s journey has been far
from smooth. Elgeyo Marakwet MP Kipchumba rubbished the prosecution of Arror
and Kimwarer dams scandal suspects, "I have looked at the charge sheets
and I can tell you the entire thing is a charade," he said.
From receiving death threats to
being accused of employing theatrics, through his words, the spymaster remains
“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,” he says.
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