Corrupt police and bent immigration officers are costing Kenyans their lives

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Any motorist in Kenya knows that when a police officer enters your car and asks you to drive to the nearest police station, he is most likely looking for a bribe.

Countless motorists have parted with money to escape being charged with real or imagined traffic offences. Police stations in this country are hostile environments, and most Kenyans would rather avoid the experience of having to stay in them for hours while a police officer looks for an elusive charge sheet.

However, if I am not wrong, I believe entering a suspect’s car is against police regulations, and maybe even against the law. So why did the two police officers who recently lost their lives in a car laden with explosives decide to enter the suspects’ car and drive with them?

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I do not mean to diminish the fact that these police officers paid the ultimate price for their vigilance. However, I think we need to investigate how it is that in the high alert environment that we find ourselves in, police officers are not following the basics of anti-terrorism training, which is to keep a safe distance from anything that looks remotely suspicious and to call for back-up.

The officers should have found a way to block and isolate the car and perhaps even called bomb experts to assess whether the car and its occupants posed a security threat.

Of course, it is easy to say all this in hindsight, but given the level of insecurity in this country, this procedure should by now have become routine.

The problem is that we are such a corrupt society (and the terrorists know it) that even in the face of death, we will not hesitate to make a quick buck.

We have seen how corruption at the Immigration Department has allowed all manner of illegal aliens into the country. There have been reports in the media of how immigration and police officers are not just complicit in allowing undocumented refugees to enter the country, they also facilitate their acquisition of Kenyan identification documents.

It was not lost on many of the undocumented and illegal Somalis who were arrested and detained in Eastleigh last month that corrupt police officers had let them cross the Kenya-Somalia border for a small fee, and that officers from the same Police Force were now demanding bribes from them in Nairobi.

Illegal immigrants

Last month, this newspaper uncovered a racket in Moyale that revealed how illegal immigrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan are smuggled into the country and issued with Kenyan ID cards by brokers working with corrupt police and immigration officers.

Last year, a former government administrator in northern Kenya told the Africa Report that human trafficking at the Kenya-Somalia border was rampant and that top civil servants were fully aware of it but did nothing.

The former administrator had prepared a report that documented some of the cases, but when he handed the report to his boss, not only was he threatened by the traffickers, he was also interdicted.

Security officers in the Dadaab refugee camp are also widely believed to be part of a cartel that sells identity documents to Somalis and other foreigners. The cartel, apparently, extends all the way to the Immigration Department headquarters in Nairobi.

Recently, a local newspaper published a shocking investigative story that showed that well-connected civil servants could create a whole new identity for foreigners – for a fee. For about Sh100,000, one can obtain a birth certificate, a school leaving certificate, a national identity card, a certificate of good conduct, a driving licence, as well as a Kenyan passport.

Instead of rounding up innocent people in Eastleigh, the government should conduct a sweep of the immigration and police departments and weed out these corrupt officers who are now costing Kenyans their lives.

These cartels are well-connected and will do anything to protect their turf. Many of them flourished under the watch of the former minister in charge of immigration, Otieno Kajwang’. He should be asked to explain to the public why he did nothing about them.

-nation.co.ke

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