Kenya: DPP’s Successive Withdrawals of Uhuru-Era Suits Sparks Public Debate

Nairobi — The recent withdrawal of multiple high-profile cases by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) has evoked mixed reactions amid speculation over possible meddling.

While some have questioned the timing of the dismissal of suits most of which involve close associates of President William Ruto, others have defended the move, claiming that some of the allegations were fabricated by the regime of former President Uhuru Kenyatta for political reasons.

The country was thrown into a frenzy on Wednesday when the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji dropped some cases pending completion of respective trials.

Matters dropped include a graft case against Public Service Cabinet Secretary nominee Aisha Jumwa and former Kenya Power boss Ben Chumo.

Article 157 (8) of the Constitution (2010) allows Director of Public Prosecutions to discontinue a prosecution with the permission of the court.

The Constitution further provides that the DPP can “discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered any criminal proceedings” instituted by his office.

Further, Article 157 (10) dictates that the Director of Public Prosecutions shall not require the consent of any person or authority for the commencement of criminal proceedings and in the exercise of his or her powers or functions, shall not be under the direction or control of any person or authority.

Other than the Sh19 million graft case against former Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa, the DPP discontinued prosecution against 10 other persons in the Chumo case.

Also dropped is the case against Samburu County Governor Moses Lenolkulal.

Though the request to drop the Sh80 million graft case against Lenolkulal was not immediately granted, he could soon be off the hook after the court directed the prosecution to file a formal application for withdrawal.

In regards to Chumo’s case, the prosecution told trial magistrate Felix Kombo it lacked compelling evidence.

While weighing in on the sudden case withdrawals, Nominated MP John Mbadi described the move as disheartening and unfortunate.

Mbadi argued that the speedy withdrawal of cases is questionable singling out the case against Aisha Jumwa and the case against former Meru Senator Mithika Linturi who like Jumwa has been nominated to the Cabinet.

“It is curious that these cases are being dropped and if you look at those who cases are being dropped, they are people who are aligned to one side of the political divided. You can easily decipher, and you can see that these are people who are close to the current regime,” he said.

The nominated MP termed the move as a clear sign that the promise by the Kenya kwanza to respect the independence of institutions was “a total lie”.

“I wonder when Kenya Kwanza when they were campaigning, they complained about state capture now they are the ones who have captured our institutions, but I don’t think Kenyans are ready to see this happen,” he said.

Mbadi hinted at a renewed push for reforms by the opposition to keep the national executive in check.

“It is highly likely that we are going to start again another fight for reforms in this country because we cannot continue like this,” he said.

Butere MP Tindi Mwale on his part said that DPP Haji needs to come out clearly and tell Kenyans the truth over the withdrawal of cases.

He said Haji need to explain why the individuals in question were “terrorized” by State agencies and prosecuted in the first place.

Mwale warned that the withdrawal of cases may signal the return of dark days when the independence of institutions was disregarded by the national executive.

“I think going forward we need to know is the DPP going to jail some people also because he is being told by certain quarters in government or is he going to say okay now I am going to do my job as per the description of the constitution,” he said.

Uriri legislator Mark Nyamita wondered what had changed after “dragging the suspects through the mad.”

He also questioned why the withdrawal of cases came a few days before the commencement of the vetting of Cabinet Secretary nominees.

During President Kenyatta’s second term, President Ruto, the DP, and Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua had decried what they described political witch hunt by the State targeting leaders in the Kenya Kwanza camp.

On numerous occasions, Ruto and Gachagua accused the state of weaponizing the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the country’s top investigative arm, to go after opponents who refused to sing to their tune and to intimidate some individuals into abandoning them in their pursuit of power.

The situation also led to a strained relationship between the DPP Haji and former DCI Director George Kinoti who clashed on many occasions including on the question on who is constitutionally mandated on the decision to charge.

Kinoti has since resigned from the helm of the criminal investigation agency and moved to the Public Service Commission, a decision which was partly attributed to his onslaught against Ruto’s allies during President Kenyatta’s administration.


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