Zaddock Angira @PeopleDailyKe
At least six police and two Immigration officers have been sent home to pave way for investigations into a multi-million-shilling human trafficking syndicate at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
Investigations by a joint team of detectives from the National Intelligence Service (NIS), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and other external agencies revealed that there was collusion among staff from the police, Immigration, Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), some recruitment agencies and the airlines that was also exposing the country to a major security threat.
Surveillance and investigations were enhanced after the US Department of State raised concerns that there were no investigations into official complicity despite credible reports of traffickers obtaining fraudulent identity documents from corrupt officials.
The interdicted officers were from the Kenya Airports Police Unit (Kapu) and DCI.
It was, however, not immediately established how many officers were affected as letters were written to the individual police officers through their commanders.
One of the letters signed by the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Kenya Police Service Edward Mbugua and seen by People Daily reads: “From reliable information reaching this office it is alleged that on diverse dates in 2018 and 2019 jointly with other police officers and Immigration offices at JKIA you have been involved in human trafficking.
“Investigations into the allegations have been instituted to establish the truth. In order not to interfere with potential witnesses, I have decided to interdict you from duty with effect from February 7, 2019.”
The JKIA has been a hub of trafficking and smuggling. To deal with the syndicate, Kenya Airways (KQ), for example, coded plane tickets to highlight suspected trafficking cases and flagged those for government officials to intercept during transit at the JKIA.
A senior detective involved in the investigations yesterday said two KQ employees, who were among the seven security officers who were dismissed recently, were also believed to have been involved in the syndicate.
Last October, KQ dismissed senior officers in the security department, including Martin Kampala who, was the security manager JKIA and Cargo, Boniface Nyongesa, who was the security manager in charge of outstations and contracted security.
Also dismissed were Hassan Wanyama and Edward Mutesa, who were both investigations specialists.
The officials interdicted and those under investigations are said to have mostly smuggled Ugandans who travel to the Middle East where they do odd jobs ranging from being housemaids to porters and watchmen, among others.
Some of them claim that they are travelling to meet close relatives working in the Middle East. Investigations revealed that some of the Ugandans enter Kenya either by using taxi or boda boda, avoiding the border points.
They do not travel in a group and on reaching Nairobi, they are taken straight to the airport where some rogue officers facilitate their movements within.
Their documents are only processed by a specific immigration officer who had been briefed earlier. They are then cleared to fly out. In some cases, investigations show, police took bribes to warn traffickers of impending operations and investigations.
According to the US Department of State’s 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, Kenya continues to host illegal recruiters with networks in Uganda and Ethiopia and who recruit Ugandan, Rwandan and Ethiopian workers through fraudulent offers of in the middle East and Asia.
Last year, the government commenced digital law enforcement data tracking on a monthly basis, and vetted 45 recruitment agencies. The report however, indicated that the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.