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Corruption crackdown at Nyayo House nets 17 immigration officers

More than a dozen immigration officers have been arrested and charged in the ongoing crackdown on corrupt officials at the Immigration Department.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki told Parliament that the government had intensified the crackdown, disclosing that an intelligence-led investigation had led to the apprehending of 17 officers.

“17 officers have been arrested and prosecuted, and intelligence-led investigations are underway to identify more officials who are taking advantage of the passport booklets shortage to extort applicants,” said Kindiki.

“Detectives are also zeroing in on more culprits in a renewed push to dismantle the complex cartel that has long frustrated the reform efforts at Nyayo House and other immigration offices across the country.”

CS Kindiki added that the government had settled pending bills worth Sh380 million that the State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services owed suppliers, to enhance efficiency and clear the passport processing backlog.

“The budgetary constraints that made it impossible for the Immigration Department to meet its production targets have been resolved. In partnership with the National Treasury, as part of unlocking the funding challenge, the department will retain a percentage of the revenue it generates in passports and permits processing fees to meet the production demand,” CS Kindiki said.

The added that the recent arrests are part of the government’s ongoing efforts to restructure the immigration department, which began last year. Public uproar over delayed passport processing forced the government to initiate a transformation initiative and begin pulling out unscrupulous officials from Nyayo House.

In a statement on February 23, Kindiki reiterated the government’s commitment to combat corruption within the department. “Those found culpable will be removed from service and held accountable through prosecution and surcharges,” he declared.

Kindiki’s revelations come a day after the department received 112,700 passport booklets, comprising 92,400, 50-page (B-series) and 20,300, 66-page (C- series).

This consignment is in addition to 50,000, 50-page booklets, that the department received last week.

Further, additional booklets, including the 34-page (A-series), have already been procured and are expected in the country from next month.

Principal Secretary of Immigration Services Julius Bitok said efforts to reduce the waiting period, the Immigration Department had procured two state-of-the-art passport printing machines which are expected to be commissioned by April 2024.

“Further, the Directorate is currently undertaking a comprehensive infrastructural upgrade of its facilities to provide a user-friendly environment and to accommodate the high rise in the number of clients,” said the Immigration PS.

Kenyans have been complaining about the passport waiting period, with some applicants forced to wait for up to three months.

Nairobi attracts a high number of passport applications daily and residents are forced to travel to far-flung towns such as Kisii, Eldoret, Embu and Kisumu, which are less busy, for their passport processing.

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