For Sh100,000 one can get a Kenyan birth certificate, school leaving certificate, national identity card certificate of good conduct, driving license
Updated Saturday, October 26th 2013 at 23:32 GMT +3
|Joseph Ole Lenku, Interior Cabinet Secretary|
Nairobi, Kenya: As government announced the sacking of fifteen high ranking immigration officials, investigations by The Standard on Sunday reveal a core of corrupt government employees working in cahoots with rogue businessmen to provide an array of paperwork that would pass as legal government-issued identification documents.
For the right price, well-connected government employees will create a whole identity for an individual, evading whatever checks and measures put in place by the government.
An ill-prepared, ill-paid, poorly motivated workforce is keen to look the other way for that extra shilling with little regard to the risk they put the country.
For about Sh100,000 one can get a birth certificate, school leaving certificate, national identity card, certificate of good conduct, driving license as well as a Kenyan passport.
To the untrained eye, the documents being processed by the cartels involving government officials look as genuine as the original documents. It is only after very keen scrutiny, against an original document, that one would probably pick out a minor element that is different from one in a genuine document.
From the tip of Somalia, southwards to the Comoros, eastwards to the Democratic Republic of Congo and westward to the Seychelles, Kenya has for decades been the preferred destination for individuals with dodgy pasts wishing to settle into a sedentary life complete with cooked-up official documentation.
It all begins with a phone call from a client to a middleman after a referral. After that, initial contact is established between the client and the provider (a government official) and a meeting place agreed upon.
As few details as possible are exchanged between the two parties. The price of each document is laid out. A birth certificate goes for Sh15,000. For another Sh20,000 one gets a national identity card. Sh15,000 gives one a school-leaving certificate. An extra Sh10,000 will get you a driving license while for Sh20,000 each, one gets a passport and a certificate of good conduct.
There is no room for bargaining as one is made to understand the dangers involved in the whole business. There are few or no questions asked.
A down payment is then made and one is told to await further instructions of when to collect the documents. Unnecessary phone calls or text messages are discouraged. All this takes a total of two weeks. But for an extra fee, the process can be fast-tracked and paperwork could be ready in between 3 to 5 days. All that is required are your “official” names, and several copies of passport size photographs. Calling to find out the progress of the documentation process is hugely frowned upon.
Sealing the deal
The documents are provided in batches. The easiest ones to get being the school leaving certificate and birth certificate, which are obtained in a single day. At this point, a tinge of mystery is introduced as the client is instructed to collect a certain envelope sent as a parcel from a particular bus service.
Patience and trust are key in this business. A brief and precise phone call is made several days later with clear concise instructions.
“Go to Times Tower and call this number. He will have your document.” With that, the driving license is delivered.
This mode of operation is repeated for the other documents. Instructions are given and a point of delivery and a pointman mentioned. One is at Nyayo House, another is at Nairobi’s Kariokor chief’s camp. An envelope changes hands and the final payments are made.
No questions asked.
In ten working days, our fictitious character Charles Njehia Kinuthia – whose photo was lifted from the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) website of inmate Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, serving a life sentence for his role in the 1998 twin United States Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam – has five crucial identification documents.
He has a birth certificate, certificate of good conduct, ID card, driving licence and school-leaving certificate. We are told the passport had been processed and was ready for collection from Nyayo House on Monday (tomorrow).
Before he was jailed for life in 2004 in the US, Ghailani spent years on the FBI Most Wanted List with a $5 million bounty on his head.
A birth certificate obtained by our investigations team shows the Tanzania-born terrorist was born at Pumwani Maternity Hospital on the 25th of April 1991.
According to the birth certificate, his father’s name is Godane Njehia and his mother’s maiden name reads as Lewth Waite Moraa (a simple distortion of the now-notorious ‘White Widow’s official surname). A certificate of good conduct with his new name of Charles Njehia Mbuthia was purportedly issued by the Criminal Investigation Department, certifying Charles is a Kenyan national and that his fingerprints have been searched in the criminal records office and no criminal record traced.
With these documents, it would be easy for one to move within the country and the region through unofficial border openings without much of a fuss.
“With no noticeable database that flags such individuals, it would be difficult for a law enforcement officer anywhere in the country to make an arrest or at least pass on information to his superiors on any suspicious individual,” Mwalimu Mati, of Mars Group, a non-governmental oversight body told The Standard on Sunday.
“The most basic question one is asked is to produce an Identification Card. Which is no longer a preserve of rightful Kenyan citizens.”
Random fugitives and terror suspects such as Al Qaeda operative Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, who was wanted by Kenya for involvement in the Kikambala attacks and was thought to be the Al Qaeda pointman in East Africa have at some point called Kenya home.
In 1999 Turkish national Abdullah Ocalan indicted for war crimes during his reign as leader of militant organisation PKK was arrested in Kenya. Curiously, he was arrested with the help of Interpol and the CIA after being housed by a foreign diplomat. He successfully entered the country without raising eyebrows.
Génocidaire Felicien Kabuga has at one time been through our porous and corrupt immigration desks for a shot at a life of freedom devoid of suspicion or any risk of arrest.
The most recent passerby being the infamous Samantha Lewthwaite, largely believed to have spent considerable time in Kenya helping to plan the Westgate attack. Intelligence reports show she travels under a South African passport.
Measures put in place by the national government to keep harmful individuals at bay remain empty and of little consequence as corrupt government officials have mutated into merchants of identification documents.
On Friday Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Ole Lenku, at a press conference announced that 15 senior immigration officers had been sacked over illegal issuance of identity documents to foreigners. In addition, as a precautionary measure, investigators have been deployed to the Department of Immigration to help “avoid a recurrence of security lapses like we have seen in the past,” he said at the presser.
“This exercise will enable us flush out all those who have been issued with illegal passports and other identification documents,” he said.
Mr Lenku said the purge of corrupt individuals would extend to other government departments, and warned those who may have been “part of the network facilitating identification documents to illegal immigrants” that their days are clearly numbered.
He said waiting cards older than three months were invalid and anyone found with them would face stern action.
Even as successive administrations promise zero tolerance on corruption, the country seems to be getting deeper into the murky corruption waters.
At the time of his inauguration in 2002, former President Mwai Kibaki in that iconic image of him on a wheelchair, one leg up in a cast and on a cushioned stool uttered the infamous words that created hope among the hearts of the millions who were listening to him:
“Corruption will now cease to be a way of life in Kenya and I call upon all those members of my government and public officers accustomed to corrupt practice to know and clearly understand that there will be no sacred cows under my government.”
As fate would have it, his was to be among, if not the most corrupt regimes Kenya has ever seen.
And it was under his watch that grand corruption schemes touching on the Immigration Department, intelligence and police services as well as the military — the nerve centre of any nation — were hatched and which mercilessly expose Kenyans to security breaches that culminated in the September 21 Westgate attack.
“This is where we start to feel the pinch of the Anglo Leasing scams which effectively ended our ambitions for a near airtight security system,” said Mr Mati.
In 2002, a series of contracts aimed at improving Kenya’s security and intelligence gathering methods as well as a modern, up-to-date immigration system were approved by the central government.
Among them were the supply of a digital multichannel security communications system, and supply of a modern passport and visa issuing system to help in processing tamper-proof passports with enhanced security seals.
There was also the proposed purchase of an oceanographic survey vessel and the putting up of a forensic laboratory to be used by the Criminal Investigations Department. All these projects cost the taxpayer billions of shillings.
“This scam damages us in two ways. We are spending money on things that have not been delivered to us and we remain exposed in a world that is constantly on the threshold of terror attacks,” says Mati.
“In its entirety the Anglo Leasing grand corruption scandal is made up of 18 security-related scandals, of which most were either with fictitious companies, or involved committing the government to pay for goods and services that were non-existent or overpriced — this in itself puts us under greater threat.”
The scandal, which remains unresolved to date, continues to expose Kenya’s soft underbelly to terrorists.
“You might ask yourself a simple question, how did these people, some with known links to terror groups make their way into the country, and possibly out of the country,” a western diplomat, who sought anonymity posed reflecting on the Westgate attacks.
Although police have officially confirmed that some suspects with alleged links to the attack were arrested at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the question remains how many more could have escaped by use of documents obtained by provision of false identities, or how many remain in the country continuing to mingle with an unsuspecting population? The jury is still out on these questions.
Six MPs tell President Uhuru Kenyatta not to attend ICC trial
Updated Saturday, October 26th 2013 at 23:58 GMT +3
|President Uhuru Kenyatta receives gifts at the homecoming of Interior Secretary, Joseph ole Lenku in Loitokitok, Saturday. [PHOTO: PETERSON GITHAIGA]|
Loitokitok, Kajiado: Six Members of Parliament yesterday urged President Uhuru Kenyatta not to appear before judges at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.
The six among them Katoo ole Metito (Kajiado South), Mary Wambui (Othaya) and Joseph Nkaissery (Kajiado Central) were speaking when they accompanied the President at the homecoming ceremony of Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku in Loitokitok.
At the same time, President Uhuru supported Inspector General David Kimaiyo’s views that local media allegedly misreported the Westgate mall attack. He said local journalists reported recklessly instead of acting responsibly and within the law to protect the families of those who were affected by the tragedy. He refuted claims that Kimaiyo’s remarks were meant to curtail media freedom because of how some journalists had covered the Westgate mall attack.
“Kimaiyo only cautioned over coverage that appeared to give too much publicity to the attackers,” said Uhuru.He appealed to the journalists to be sensitive to the families of those either killed or injured in such attacks.
“I have been to many countries, but I have never seen TV footage aired live as people are being shot,” said the President. He said the security forces were devoted to tackling criminals, therefore, they should be respected because they sacrificed to protect the country.
“For the Fourth Estate don’t be people who glorify ‘criminals who want to harm Kenyans, do not demoralise our security officers, they have my full support because security is key to all of us,” said Kenyatta.
“You can say press freedom, mimi mtanitusi mpaka ngombe warudi kwa boma na mimi sitashtuka, mimi sitajali (you will abuse me until the cows come back to the shed, I will not be cowed, and I will not care),” he added.
The President told the media houses that even when they showed pictures on televisions they must be humane.
“They have children and siblings and we must respect their feelings, don’t praise criminals,” he said.
On the International Criminal Courts (ICC) cases against him, Kenyatta was cagey in talking about it and instead noted he agreed with MPs present who told him to skip the ICC trials.
“Hiyo mambo wenzangu wameongea sitaki kuongea zaidi, tuko hapa hapo laini hiyo, (I would not like to comment more from what my friends have said”) he said.
The Hague issue
He was referring to earlier speeches by Members of Parliament who asked him to skip the ICC trials, which will begin on 12th of November at The Hague in Netherlands.
The National Alliance (TNA) MPs met last week and resolved that the President must not go to The Hague.
“The party MPs agreed that they will not allow you to go, if you go against the party position, then you know the consequences,” Ole Metito, who is the immediate former Internal Affairs minister, told the President.
Maj Gen (rtd) Nkaissery, told Kenyatta: “Over 6 million Kenyans voted for you when they clearly knew that you had a case to answer and the ICC, we will not allow you to go there.”
Onesmus Ngunjiri, Bahati MP agreed with the Nkassery’s statement and added that the biggest court was the vote that Uhuru received in the March 4 General Election. “We want the world to know that Kenya is a sovereign state and independent, we will camp at the airport not to allow you to leave the country,” added TNA Nominated MP Peris Tobiko.
Othaya MP, Mary Wambui said that Kenyans would not be led by colonialists and warned that no plane will leave the country carrying the Kenyan President to The Hague.
“We elected you the President of Kenya and you have a duty to serve Kenyans therefore you must not go to The Hague because the electorate expect you to serve them,” she said.
Joseph Limo new MP for Kipkelion East said they would consider whether the Deputy President William Ruto should continue attending the trial sessions at The Hague.
Ruto has been attending his trials since September and his trials will go on a break on November 1. Already five witnesses have testified in a case he was accused together with Radio Journalist Joshua arap Sang.