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My officers have been reduced to carrying court files, laments Kinoti

After a good run in the war against graft, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti now says his officers are frustrated and their morale has hit the “lowest ebb”.

“We feel betrayed after doing the donkey work,” he told the Nation a day after a court drama in which the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Noordin Haji, declined to charge Kenya Ports Authority Managing Director Daniel Manduku.

This is the first time that Mr Kinoti, known for his tough talk, is complaining about the lack of progress in cases pending in the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).

Although he did not indicate the number of cases, Mr Kinoti had previously complained about the Judiciary, which he accused of dragging its feet on graft cases.

“My officers are now getting frustrated daily. They spend a lot of time investigating crime, risking their lives — and even after getting all the evidence required to prosecute cases, they are reduced to carrying files,” he charged.

Mr Kinoti, however, said he won’t succumb to such frustrations: “It is important for Kenyans to know that my officers have done their level best. They feel betrayed.”

“My worry is when suspects tell my officers ‘you are going nowhere’ and then it comes to pass.”

Low morale

The DPP neither picked our calls nor answered our text messages on whether his office is to blame for the “low morale” among investigating officers.

More so, whether the Manduku case will become the tinderbox on the war against corruption remains to be seen but sources say it’s testing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s resolve to fight graft at all levels.

In recent weeks, questions had been raised on the ODPP’s failure to review the KPA files months after investigations were completed, triggering memories of the turf wars between former DPP Keriako Tobiko and then-DCI Ndegwa Muhoro, who was embroiled in the controversial Tatu City saga.

Despite resignation calls, Mr Tobiko was appointed to the Cabinet while his nemesis was named Kenya’s ambassador to Malaysia. All eyes will now be on the Executive to see how it will break the stalemate between Mr Kinoti and Mr Haji.

The challenge is that Mr Haji holds an independent and constitutional office with a mandate derived from Article 157.

While the role of the ODPP is to institute and to undertake prosecution of criminal matters, he may also direct the Inspector-General of the National Police Service to investigate any information or allegation of criminal conduct.

But within police circles, there have been questions on whether he is overstepping his mandate.

So powerful is the DPP that he does not require “consent of any person or authority for the commencement of criminal proceedings” and is not “under the direction or control of any person or authority”.

The only caveat is that in the exercise of his power, he “shall have regard to the public interest, the interests of the administration of justice and the need to prevent and avoid abuse of the legal process”.

Big Four Agenda

President Kenyatta had pegged the success of his last term not only on the Big Four Agenda, but also on the war against corruption. The latter has managed to disrupt cartels in the government, drug barons and tax evaders.

The entry of Mr Kinoti and Mr Haji — who seemed to have Vesuvian determination to rein in cartels — changed the matrix in the war against corruption as investigations commenced on individuals and companies that had turned government agencies into cash cows.

They also had the support of the President, who would publicly commend them for their efforts.

So fast was the progress of cases that files would be acted upon immediately the investigations were completed.

Why the DCI now feels his officers are getting frustrated will emerge sooner rather than later as cases stuck in the prosecutor’s office start to emerge.

Sources say investigating officers from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission are also facing a similar dilemma — and there is fear that some sacred cows could be the source of the ongoing acrimony.

Mr Kinoti had previously been criticised by politicians for “politicising” the war on corruption. Last year, he told the media that he will “neither be intimidated nor blackmailed”.

By then, a group led by Deputy President William Ruto had told off Mr Kinoti and asked him to concentrate on petty crimes and leave the rest to the EACC.

Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen was the most vocal. He said: “Politics should be done by politicians and such other matters of the State such as fighting corruption and national development should be done objectively.”

On Wednesday, Mr Kinoti vowed to defend his officers from ”sacred cows” even as the war on corruption appeared to waver.