Two years ago, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti burst onto the scene with awe, but their bromance seems to have gone cold.
When they took office they were presented as the dynamic duo that would revamp the fight against grand corruption.
True to the claim, Haji and Kinoti hit the ground running, with arrests of individuals in and outside government who were previously thought untouchable.
The duo was camera-friendly and issued regular updates on operations of their high profile offices and cases they were pursuing.
Soon, those facing investigations over corruption and other criminal activities dreaded the mere mention of Haji and Kinoti’s names.
But on Monday, February 24, 2020, the two refused to comment on claims that they are no longer working as closely as they once did as far as prosecution of high profile cases is concerned.
While the DCI boss gave a curt “No comment” response to inquiries by the People Daily, the DPP ignored all attempts to respond to the allegations.
Sources in the criminal justice system say the bromance between the two crime busters seems to have faded, with insiders attributing the turn of events to a blame-game between their offices.
The two no longer appear together for media briefings, sources observed.
While the office of the DPP accuses Kinoti of conducting poor investigations before making arrests, sometimes leading to the acquittal of suspects in court, the DCI blames Haji for weak prosecution of cases.
Chief Justice David Maraga has on many occasions expressed concern over the quality of investigations before cases are presented before the court.
“The war against corruption is not going to be won by blame games. The war will be won by the application of the law. If we are given half-baked cases we will dismiss them firmly,” Maraga said at a meeting attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta recently.
CJ Maraga’s predecessor, Dr Willy Mutunga, at the weekend sparked off the debate over alleged misuse of key evidence in public platforms.
Dr. Mutunga tweeted: “Is the media in breach of the right to privacy? Reporters also get intel from investigators raising the issue of the right to a fair trial.”
The former CJ was making reference to Kinoti’s comments on investigations leading to the arrest of Appeal Court judge Sankale ole Kantai.
Prominent lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi joined the debate with a tweet: “DPP Noordin has an obligatory constitutional duty to investigate why crime investigation files are first handed over to the media then to his office. Isn’t the media being used to (a) cloud his judgement (b) exert pressure (c) rally public opinion against the accused?”
Nairobi lawyer Maria Mbeneka, said it is unprocedural for the DCI to make public evidence through the media.
“By doing so, the DCI will be injuring both the DPP and the accused since public opinion will be formed against it with the evidence and the nitty-gritty already out,” said Mbeneka, who is vying for the presidency of the Law Society of Kenya.
Another city lawyer, Oliver Kipchumba, described the Kinoti-Haji alliance as “unholy and incestuous”. Kipchumba accused Kinoti of making dramatic allegations to the public to whip up emotions, only to present weak or different evidence or charges in court.
“The office of the DCI should be held accountable for trying to shape public opinion, clouding the judgment of the DPP to prosecute cases not on the strength of the evidence available but on public perceptions,” said Kipchumba.
“The evidence he reveals to public does not get into the courtroom. The DPP is supposed to oversight the DCI and not the other way round. The collapse of their relationship is good for the administration of justice,” he added.
However, lawyer Steve Ogolla defended the DCI, saying he had a right to make investigations public.
“If the quality of evidence is strong, it doesn’t matter what he says in public. Public interest also matters in handling of cases,” he told People Daily.
In the past, CJ Maraga has accused the DPP of framing cases poorly and failing to provide witness statements on time, denying those accused ability to defend themselves.
Mbeneka said the emerging differences between the offices of the DPP and that of the DCI could hugely affect the quality of high profile cases.
“What I find curious is when they rush high profile cases to court only to ask for more time,” he said.
Despite high profile arrests, Kinoti and Haji are yet to record any major convictions in the cases they have taken to court, and a majority are yet to kick off due to legal technicalities.
Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi blames the DPP for delay in hearing of corruption cases.
“The problem we have is the design of the prosecution. The way they were done is evident that some of them will never be finalised even in the next one year unless something is done,” she told a parliamentary committee, accusing the DPP of lining up more than 40 witnesses in some of the cases.