Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) nominee Noordin Haji has put corrupt leaders on notice, warning no one will be spared. He said he would be going to court personally for cases that are of high public interest to ensure thorough prosecution process is adhered to.
Appearing before the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of the National Assembly chaired by Baringo North MP William Cheptumo for vetting, Haji said he will deal with the ‘big fish’ and ensure there is closure in some of the long-pending cases.
Haji, a former deputy director in charge of anti-terrorism and money laundering at the National Intelligence Service (NIS) said: “I will be a team player and I will ensure that I attend to cases of public interest. I want Kenyans to have confidence that attention is being given to cases.”
Haji told the committee that he will not in any way be swayed by political affiliation despite his relation to Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji. “I am here today not because of my father Yusuf Haji who is Senator of Garissa county but because of the hard work I have put in place for years and my integrity,” he said.
“I want to assure you that I will not be influenced and that the rule of law and the Constitution will be followed. Sometimes I think it is both a blessing and a burden to be my father’s son but I think I am here today not because of my father but because of my integrity,” he added.
According to him,‘big fish’ “have money and thus afford good lawyers who file for judicial reviews to delay the cases whenever they are filed in court.”
Apart from engaging the Judiciary, he also said he will make sure that prosecutors handling corruption cases touching on big wigs operate on a rotational basis to ensure they do not get compromised.
“I am aware that the ‘big fish’ also approach prosecutors to help them win cases, but I intend to ensure there is continuous rotation of persecutors who deal with cases that touch on such people,” he said.
Haji said his experience as a State Counsel, a legal officer, investigator, analyst and administrator responsible for efficient coordination and utilisation of human, financial and material resources has equipped him with strategic and administrative leadership needed in this role.
“As an analyst, I am concerned to note that the last 10 years has seen a rise in new threats like terrorism, drug and human trafficking, cyber-crime, financial and economic crimes that threaten the very existence of our country if left unchecked.”
On reforming, the Office of the DPP, he said, will be done based on a three-pronged approach namely, re-casting, re-tooling and re-learning. He added that he will also focus on the criminal justice system to ensure it works properly.
In particular, he opposed the issue of plea bargaining on capital offences, saying it should only be granted on minor offences once approved by either a magistrate or a judge.
In regards to decongesting the prisons, he assured the vetting team he will apply use of alternative dispute resolution to deal with petty offenders, adding that he will also engage with the Judiciary to ensure cases are handled in a speedy manner.
“I envisage a system that will link the whole criminal justice chain from investigations, prosecutions and the Judiciary, including the correctional services,” said Haji.
On extradition of criminals to other countries, Haji said he will be appealing the case by the Attorney General to ensure that the DPP’s office is involved in such matters from which it had been blocked by the court.
Haji also assured the committee he would operationise Section 52 of the Office of the DPP Act, which seeks to establish a prosecution inspection team to ensure quality assurance.