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Kenya Government finally arrests 20 officials over graft scandal

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan police have arrested about 20 suspects from the National Youth Service (NYS) over a 90 million U.S. dollar graft scandal.

Youth Affairs Principal Secretary Lillian Mbogo-Omollo presented herself to the police on Monday as investigators intensify probe into the scandal at the NYS, the country’s premier vocational training institute for under-privileged youth, involving some of its flagship projects.

The arrests were ordered on Sunday by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji after he independently reviewed all the ten inquiries files related to the ongoing investigations at NYS and directed that prosecution commence immediately against all 48 named suspects.

"A team of experienced prosecutors led by the DPP is currently undertaking a final review of the files," Haji said.

"The DPP assures the public that appropriate directions based on analysis of evidence and the law shall be issued without undue delay," he added.

Among those arrested are NYS director-general Richard Ndubai and top finance and procurement officials.

They were held at various police stations ahead of their prosecution this week.

The suspects are likely to spend another night there ahead of their prosecution on Tuesday.

"We spent the night looking for them. They will also spend theirs in custody ahead of their prosecution, probably on Tuesday," said an official with knowledge of the operation.

The arrests of senior government officials signal looming arrests and prosecutions of more than 40 other suspects, including NYS managers, suppliers and treasury officials.

Reports indicate that on Friday, Haji and DCI director George Kinoti met to review statements recorded by the individuals suspected to have been involved in the latest NYS scandal.

Investigations were launched after it emerged that an unknown amount of money could have been lost at the NYS through fictitious payments.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has ordered speedy investigations that have seen Omollo and Ndubai step aside. All NYS procurement, finance and accounting personnel who are under investigation have been sent on compulsory leave.

A multi-agency team pursuing allegations of fraud in paying tenders is embarking on the second phase of their probe.

Investigators want to establish if there are any case of collusion between suppliers and public officers that may have led to theft of money in fictitious claims involving billions of shillings (tens of millions of dollars).


Kenyans welcome government swoop on corruption suspects

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyans have lauded their government as it takes decisive action against public workers and business people accused of corruption.

The government on Monday arrested 40 people accused of corruption as it hunts for 14 others still at large.

The individuals include a senior official in the Ministry of Public Service and Youth Affairs and several other senior servants linked to a 90 million U.S. dollar scandal at the National Youth Service.

The suspects are said to have engaged in fraudulent dealings that include payment for goods not supplied.

They are to be arraigned in court on Tuesday and charged with various corruption-related offenses.

Kenyans have rejoiced the swoop, noting it reaffirms President Uhuru Kenyatta’s quest to stem the vice that had dogged his administration since he took office in 2013.

Public anger has been rising in the last few days as claims of corruption surface from key government agencies.

Other organizations under investigation include Kenya Power, Kenya Pipeline Company, National Cereals and Produce Board, Youth Fund and Kenya Forest Service.

Millions of dollars in public funds are said to have been lost in the scams in the public service organizations.

"I am very happy for the swift action from the government.

"These people must pay for the looting," Asbel Kinyua, a motorbike rider in Nairobi, said on Tuesday.

Kinyua noted that corruption had become endemic in the country that it is seen as a way of life.

"People have been stealing without any consequences and in the process destroying lives of the sick, the elderly, children and the youth.

"In fact, if you don’t steal, you appear to be the bad one," he added.

Tracy Anabwa, a vegetable seller in Nairobi, hopes the current arrests would lead to prosecution and jailing of the corrupt.

"We have seen people arrested before, taken to court and the cases drag on for years and they are let off the hook. It happened in the first National Youth Service scandal," she said.

"This should not happen this time."

Social media has been alight with discussions on corruption in the last two weeks, with the issue trending under various hashtags, including #stopnysthieves and #namerealnysthieves.

"Light fears darkness.

"The antidote to corruption is transparency.

"Let all ministries, counties and state corporations have functioning websites with names and ranks of their top management and board members and their salaries.

"The public will be doing public auditing of their lifestyles," lawyer Donald Kipkorir offered on Twitter on Tuesday.

"If we are to deal with corruption, just do lifestyle audit of all public officers and you will wonder how some who recently joined county and national governments are driving latest cars and live in mansions with little salary as 400 dollars a month," said Nickton Chesaina.

With past wars on corruption having yielded scant results, some social media users have cast doubts on the current one.

"Have you ever asked yourself why nearly all corruption scandals only come to the light after execution?

"Why aren’t they busted during or just after?

"Maybe the whole intention isn’t stopping corruption after all.

"Corruption networks exists in known places but cells are left," said Kinyan Boy on Twitter.

"Instead of going for the big fish, the small fish becomes the soft target in the so-called fight against corruption," said Joel Mwendwa.

"This is another hot air."

On Tuesday morning, nearly all radio and TV talk shows were about corruption, with citizens expressing their anger.

"The police should also go for the cabinet secretary in the ministries involved because they carry the biggest responsibility.

"This is the only way to eliminate graft," said Samuel Okusimba on a morning radio talk show.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has backed the current arrests and prosecution of the corruption suspects as he seeks to redeem his legacy in the second and last term.

"We will not tolerate unethical people in government.

"People with responsibility must be ready to serve and not to be served or loot from the public," said Kenyatta.

Ernest Manuyo, a business management lecturer in Nairobi, noted that lots of money is lost through corruption in Kenya, curtailing economic growth.

"Kenyans are paying for the economic crimes dearly.

"When money budgeted for road construction is looted, it is the public that suffers because of poor road network," said Manuyo.

A survey released in 2016 by the East African Institute showed that 50 percent of youth in Kenya do not care what means one uses to make money as long as they don’t land in prison.

Some 30 percent of those polled noted that corruption is profitable, with 35 percent being ready to give or receive a bribe to achieve any goal, statistics that Manuyo say should worry the Kenyan society since the social fabric is in shreds.



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