Kenya: Why Fresh Cocaine Probe is Necessary
Nairobi - Attorney General Amos Wako should immediately order fresh investigations into the Sh6.4 billion cocaine case.
The full significance of Nairobi Chief Magistrate Aggrey Muchelule's judgment in the case is yet to be appreciated by the public.
There should be no illusion that the police, on their own, intercepted the massive cocaine haul and made the subsequent arrests in December 2004.
At some point, the police even suggested that they had been tracking the cocaine shipments for some time before the televised interception. The fact is that the police intercepted the drug haul following specific information from Dutch drug enforcement agencies.
After receiving the information, police did not act for several days, during which the drug barons, who are believed to have been staying at the Rocky House in Malindi, calmly packed their bags, flew to Nairobi through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on December 11 where they spent the night at a city hotel, and the next day, left the country.
The drug barons left in circumstances that suggest they were given safe passage. Subsequent evidence indicated that some of the foreign suspects may have received preferential treatment at the Immigration Department.
After the barons' departure, it took a further two days for the police, accompanied by journalists, to move into the Embakasi and Malindi premises where the cocaine was found abandoned.
Questions remain unanswered as to what may have taken place between the time the police received the information and moved in, including whether all the cocaine intercepted was declared. After all, the stuff had been abandoned.
Shortly after the June 28 court ruling, Security minister John Michuki, in a speech at a United Nations function, stated that the drugs supply had increased tenfold in Kenya.
Mr Michuki may not have realised the significance of his admission in relation to the cocaine bust in December 2004, or noticed a report in the Daily Nation of March 4 in which a US State Department report is quoted as stating: "Official corruption is allowing international drug gangs to expand their operations in Kenya and also enabling greater use of narcotics by Kenyans."
Surveys indicate that the collapse in the street value of cocaine coincided with the seizures of December 2004.
The same reports indicate that the price of cocaine has remained at this depressed level, possibly due to oversupply. This might suggest that there could have been more cocaine than the 1.1 tons declared and or intercepted by the police on December 14, 2004.
Africa Confidential in its June 9 edition claimed that there are a further 1.8 tons hidden in the country that are being smuggled out to Europe and the USA in small parcels.
In the two subsequent prosecutions by the police, 15 people were hauled to court even before the investigation files were forwarded to the Attorney General's office for competent assessment on the adequacy of evidence.
The police rejected the appointment of a competent and specially trained prosecutor in anti-narcotics investigations and prosecutions.
Skeleton investigation files finally received reflected shoddy investigations with vital evidence missing.
At some point, police resisted an attempt to bring in experts from the United Nations to assist in the investigations and prosecutions.
The final open destruction of the narcotics should be credited to all those who fought to ensure the drugs were not re-routed into the market.
The Attorney General finally directed that the two cases be consolidated, after which all evidence be reviewed to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to sustain the prosecution.
Apart from driver David Mugo Kiragu, whom the court convicted of drug trafficking; all other suspects were acquitted. Mr Kiragu, who was sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment and a Sh20 billion fine, does not fit the profile of a drug baron.
Therefore, it follows that the police are yet to arrest the kingpins of the cartel operating between South America, Kenya and Europe. Conclusion: The cartel remains intact and fully operational.
Mr Wako needs to take charge and order fresh investigations into the case this time with the assistance of international drug enforcement agencies. In addition, Mr Wako needs to ensure the urgent enactment of the outstanding Anti Money Laundering legislation to stop Kenya from becoming a leading money laundering centre.