Haji proves critics wrong with prosecution of graft big fish
When he took office as the Director of Public Prosecutions, many were not sure about Noordin Haji’s ability to deal with the big fish in the war on corruption.
But within 100 days, Haji has proved his critics wrong by the speed and consistency with which he has made decisions on who should be prosecuted.
Appearing before a parliamentary vetting team on March 16, Haji was quick to acknowledge the huge task that lay ahead and the huge expectations of Kenyans.
“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. I will have a meeting with the Judiciary to address this,” Haji told the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly.
He said his fidelity would be to the Constitution. Two days later, the son of Garissa senator Yusuf Haji was sworn in.
“I am not here because I’m the son of Senator Haji but because of hard work and integrity that has been part of my life,” Haji told the MPs.
The DPP settled down to work at his office on national Social Security Fund building knowing well he needed to prove his critics wrong.
Many thought he was being rewarded for being the son of a well-connected family.
Haji has gone after the dreaded and well-connected suspects who were considered untouchable under the leadership of his predecessor Keriako Tobiko [now Environment CS].
The former state spy has managed to shake up the dreaded corruption cartels and dismantled intricate graft webs fleecing the state.
He’s moved with speed to restore confidence in the ODPP having come to office at a time when a disillusioned p[ublic had lost hope in the fight against graft.
STRICT BOND TERMS
First, Haji went for the big fish in the Sh468 million National Youth Service scandal in which staff are accused of colluding with well-connected individuals to siphon millions of shillings from the public coffers through phony companies.
He ordered the arrest and prosecution of high-flying public officers among them former Youth and Public Service PS Lilian Omolo and former NYS boss Richard Ndubai.
Haji pushed for strict bond terms, having known the antics used by suspects to defeat justice. The suspects were denied bond in a move that heralded a new prosecution model little known to Kenyans.
The suspects, including owners of the proxy firms used to swindle money from NYS, were remanded for close to a month as they battled for bond.
The NYS case presents one of the most high-profile prosecutions under Haji’s watch. He has asked the Judiciary to play its part.
Almost all prosecutors at the headquarters and across the counties were moved in the changes announced on Wednesday as Haji prepares for cases with graft kingpins.
Busia governor Sospeter Ojaamong has also been charged with corruption. The DPP has also preferred charges against Kenya Bureau of Standards CEO Charles Ongwae and other six senior managers for allowing substandard fertiliser into the country.
Last month, Nakuru West MP Samwel Arama was charged with land fraud but was released on a Sh1 million bond after staying behind bars for three days.
Last week, Haji approved the prosecution of Kenya Power MD Ken Tarus, former MD Ben Chumo and top managers as the noose tightens on graft suspects.
President Uhuru Kenyatta is determined to seal graft-free legacy and has promised support in the war on corruption.
On Saturday, Haji ordered the arrest of current and former senior managers at Kenya Power over procurement of defective transformers and the irregularities in prequalifying 525 companies for labour and transport contracts.
The prosecutions and successful conviction could restore public confidence in the ODPP after many years of freely-swimming big fish.