By Philip Murgor
It is with amusement that I follow the purported declaration of war by President Kenyatta and his erstwhile Deputy, Mr Ruto against the drug lords in Kenya who have had free reign, with total impunity for many years. It is too good to be true, hence we must question the intent, and resolve.
Firstly, I start with an elementary observation. The narcotics trade and trafficking can only flourish in an atmosphere of extreme corruption. For the country to be under the grips of cartels and drug lords and kingpins, the country lost the war against grand corruption a long time ago. In other words, grand looting of the public till goes hand in hand with unchecked transnational crime like the drug trade and money laundering. Uhuru and Ruto therefore should eliminate grand corruption, and the drug cartels will be forced out of business. Functioning institutions starting with law enforcement, immigration, customs, prosecution and the judiciary must be cleaned out. Short of that, the Jubilee pair is simply playing politics, and would do better to admit so.
For the Jubilee Leadership to take on the fight against the drug lords, they need to be free of any sponsorship or compromise with them. To the public, if a leader has amassed his fortune through theft from the public coffers, he is no different from the one who has made it selling or trafficking in narcotics to destroy our citizens. Both types of leaders cause suffering and death amongst the citizens. If any leader cannot explain his wealth, how are the citizens to know it is not from trafficking in narcotics??
The drug lords have infiltrated all sections of the business community and in the last decade by way of laundering the proceeds of trafficking, and now stand tall amongst the most successful business personalities. They are well represented in parliament, and in sections of government. Indeed, unless stopped, it is only a matter of time before they take over the presidency, directly or indirectly and perfect the capture of the State.
While the Kenya Government, for many years stalled and delayed in passing an anti-money laundering law (in 2009), the country became a haven for international money launderers (most involved in transnational crime, including narcotics, terrorism, piracy, poaching etc.), and recorded inexplicable growth in the construction and housing sectors, which was officially passed off as bona fide diaspora remittances.
For decades now, the political patronage system has been driven by money, to simply buy and bribe for votes, and to manipulate the political process. Apart from the corrupt public officials who loot billions from the public till, presently, the only other competing source of political slush funding is from those involved in transnational crime, including drug trafficking, money laundering, pirating, human trafficking, terrorism financing etc.
As the political process became more corrupt, the greater the requirement for funds to the extent that the drug lords are now the king makers, members of parliament, senators, governors, and the greatest financiers of certain presidential candidates as happened in Colombia, when the drug cartels were in control. Very soon, we will see a drug lord actually vie for the presidency. In effect, there is no difference between those who loot the public till, and cause hunger through lack of food and water, or death through lack of medicine or healthcare and those who cause addiction and death through the trafficking in narcotics. Both groups are merchants of death.
When organised crime takes over public life, those charged with law enforcement, prosecution and adjudication are the first targets for sacking, threats, injury and even death as happened in Colombia.
In Kenya we have a massive drug trafficking problem, and for many years have remained a major transit hub of narcotics from South America transiting to Europe. The most famous incident occurred in December 2004 while I was serving as the Director of Public Prosecutions. The Kenya Police received very specific intelligence from certain European Governments that large quantities of cocaine was in Kenya being prepared for shipment to Europe, forcing them, albeit reluctantly, to seize 1.1 tons of high grade cocaine, worth Ksh 6.4 billion, stashed at two locations in the country. This was the largest seizure on the African continent at the time. Information available at the time, suggested that the consignments in the country ran into several tons. This was supported by the fact that UNODC in Nairobi at the time noted the sharp decrease of the street price of cocaine due to a sudden increase in supply.
Despite my recorded protestations, the police conducted a sham investigation, in which several innocent persons were charged, as part of a cover up to provide the impression that the drug lords had been brought to book, when to the contrary, no effort was actually made. I maintained that my office would not engage in a cover up prosecution, and insisted that the recovered cocaine must be disposed of in a transparent manner supervised by the court and international drug enforcement agencies. The police thought otherwise and at one point, attempted to get irregular clearance to dispose of the cocaine, without reference to the trial court. This escalated the tension between the interested parties and my office.
On 25th May 2005, the day I was fired, I had requested the late Mirugi Kariuki, Assistant Minister Internal Security to brief President Kibaki, on the interference in the case by powerful members of his government. When he arrived at State House, he found the President indisposed, and was therefore required to brief one of his handlers. Mr. Mirugi was shock at the reaction of this individual, who then together with a powerful minister, made the decision to sack me and replace me before Kibaki awoke, and thereafter inform him that they had acted in his best interests. An unsigned communication of the dismissal was then sent to media houses, and Amos Wako the then AG was telephoned and directed to notify me. He protested to one Stanley Murage, and sought audience with the Kibaki, which was denied.
It thereafter took the Government four months to send me a termination letter dated 24th September 2005, in which Amb. Francis Muthaura, Head of the Public Service did not provide any reasons for my removal, save to thank me for the services I had rendered to the government, and wish me luck in my future endeavors. Notably, I was denied my final salary and terminal dues for over a year.
At the end of the cocaine trials, long after I had left, only one small functionary was convicted, and Kenyans were left no closer to knowing who the kingpins were, and thousands of Kenyans mainly youth continue being destroyed, and die through drug abuse.
It remains a fact, as admitted by President Uhuru Kenyatta, that this country and many of its public institutions are under the firm grip of criminal cartels, including those charged with the responsibility of containing the trafficking in narcotics. While Uhuru concedes that the criminal justice system has failed, he claims to be powerless to do anything. We should not forget the Artur Brothers Saga where a Parliamentary Committee found that international felons were invited into the country, and took over vital institutions like the police, and ran riot, including raiding an vandalizing a media house simply to terrorize and curtail media freedom.
The cocaine case and its mishandling are amongst the most obvious examples of how much influence the drug barons have over the government. Many officers involved were sacked, transferred, victimized and at least two murdered in the course of covering up this massive crime.
To his credit, Uhuru Kenyatta, by then was the Chairman of the PAC as Leader of the Opposition and took a firm stand on issues relating to transnational crime, and in particular, the Anglo Leasing Scandal, giving the first and initial impression that he might be able to dismantle and destroy the criminal networks, if he ever came to power. Indeed, in order to intimidate, discredit me or prevent me from testifying before the PAC, regarding the Anglo-Leasing Scandal, a questionable committee led by Martha Karua, as the then Minister of Justice & Constitutional Affairs, Gen. Ali, the then Commissioner of Police, Joseph Kamau the Director of CID amongst other, on 14th February 2006, falsely accused me of being a suspect in the Goldenberg Scandal, and took steps to withdraw my firearm certificate, and cancel my passport. A simple act of terror directed at a witness to defeat the course of justice. Uhuru, after the PAC, recorded my testimony, in a letter dated 28th February 2006, addressed to Maj. Gen. Ali, stated as follows:
RE: THE SAFTEY & SECURITY OF PHILIP MURGOR
Mr. Philip Murgor, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Served in a very sensitive position and handled very sensitive matters for this country. The Public Accounts Committee while taking evidence from him on 21st February 2006 expressed great concern that matters relating to his personal security and his right to protection by the state have been handled lightly. The Committee wishes to expect from you that due consideration is given to the said concerns.
This is, therefore, to request you to ensure that he is given adequate security at all times.
HON. UHURU KENYATTA, EGH, MP
Suffice it to say, the allegations of involvement in the Goldenberg Scandal were false to the knowledge of Karua Committee, as to date, no statement has ever been recorded from me regarding the allegations. Indeed, I promptly instituted a private prosecution against Maj General Ali, and Joseph Kamau for conspiracy to defeat the course of justice which, after summons were duly issued, was terminated by Mr. Tobiko, the DPP.
After a considerable period, my security and my passport were restored. However, at one point, I was assigned an incompetent officer who would fall into deep sleep every time he was in a car on a journey. I complained, and it was agreed that, a suitable officer would be found and assigned. When I eventually identified a suitable officer, I made a request and informed that I had to make it in writing. When I did, after some delay, The IG Joseph Boinett replied advising that I was not entitled to a body guard under an alleged Police Policy. Who is, if not a former DPP who had diligently prosecuted in cases involving drug trafficking, terrorism, grand corruption, mass murder and others. Whatever, the case, the selective provision of state security, is also another measure that the drug lords are able to influence as they proceed to perfect the capture of all state institutions to silence dissent, and political opposition.
A lot of water has since passed under the bridge and Mr Kenyatta is the now the President of Kenya with Mr William Ruto as his deputy. Kenyans expected that he would deal effectively with corruption, and drug trafficking amongst other crimes. Sadly not. Corruption fuelled by tribalism is at its highest since independence, well known felons, drug traffickers and money launderers are in public and elected positions, most of them issued with civilian firearm certificates and assigned armed police bodyguards, and it has been become business as usual for the country to create overnight billionaires through fraudulent public procurement, while the economy declines as both the cost of living and unemployment rises. Today every one of us knows of someone suffering from drug abuse.
While the removal of the Akasha brothers and their associates from Kenya is an overdue and welcomed development, we must not lose sight of the fact that the criminal justice system (Police, DPP & Judiciary) miserably failed, leading to the Executive resorting to the questionable international practice of rendition (extra judicial removal). If the Jubilee Government wants to be taken seriously, it should publicly recognize these failures, and take decisive and public action against those in charge of the departments concerned. Rendition is not provided for in our Constitution, and should not be institutionalized. The internationally acceptable practice is that persons awaiting the conclusion of extradition proceedings involving serious crimes are held in custody, to eliminate flight risk, or possible harm and intimidation to witnesses. If however, bail is granted, invariably, as in the case of the Akashas, the accused persons get a reprieve and the proceedings do not take off forever.”
If however, bail is granted, invariably, as in the case of the Akashas, and the proceedings take forever.
While cocaine, heroin and other prohibited drugs remain readily available at prices that our children can afford, nothing has been done by the government. This evident by the largest seizure of heroin, worth Ksh 25 billion by the Australian Navy off the shores of Mombasa. Whilst the Kenyan government denied that the drugs were found in Kenya coastal waters, it doesn’t change the fact that Kenya remains a major transit hub for narcotics being shipped to Europe, or explain why the drugs remain in abundant supply in all our cities and town, without any major arrest of the kingpins.
Today in what in what may be mistaken for a political side show, Uhuru and Ruto have declared war on the coastal drug barons. Every Kenyan must welcome this development regardless of the politics, particularly if it is serious. Action must be taken against ALL drug barons regardless of political affiliation. Jubilee’s efforts at combating serious crimes where the suspects are liquid have turned out to be nothing more that rent seeking ventures by many political brokers, that emerge to stop the investigation. Narcotics trafficking thrive on corruption and breeds corruption. It was corruption in the first place that allowed drug trafficking to take root, and now it is the proceeds of the same trade that ensures that corruption in all aspects of Kenyan life continues.
For Uhuru and Ruto to be taken seriously, Kenyans need to examine at their failed record of containing corruption to conclude, that they will not and cannot end the illegal international trade and trafficking in narcotics. They are simply preaching water and drinking wine, or in their own words, “eating meat while others salivate”.
Nothing has been done to effectively combat the trafficking of narcotics which has led to the destruction of an entire generation of youth, particularly in Nairobi and the coastal towns. The government has done absolutely nothing, simply because today, the drug barons are the biggest providers of political slush funding to our leaders.
The people of Kenya urgently need a government that will once and for all deal with the well-known drug lords, kingpins, and cartels involved in drug trafficking and other transnational crime regardless of political affiliation. Should we the citizens of Kenya, fail to act now to elect president with the courage and honesty to clean up the country, it will not be long before, wars between cartels break out. Murders and assassinations of public officers, politicians and other players will become common place, to facilitate and complete the state capture by the drug lords, as happened in Columbia.
On my part, as presidential candidate, you can now be sure that the narcotics slush funding available to politicians, will be used to ensure that I do not succeed in my bid!