On the Okemo / Gichuru UK case

Posted by on 3rd June 2011

Categories:   Corruption Members of Parliament

By Mzalendo Contributor – Moreen Majiwa

One can only imagine what a roller coaster month its been for Nambale MP Chrysanthus ‘Chris’ Okemo and former KPLC head Samuel Gichuru.  On April 20, 2011 the Chief Justice of the Island of Jersey issued warrants of arrest against the two on charges of fraud and money laundering. The two were required to appear before the court in Jersey on May 5th 2011.  From the events that have transpired since, it safe to assume that neither appeared.

On Monday 23rd May 2011 Henry Bellingham the UK Minister for Africa met with Attorney General Amos Wako and requested the AG execute the warrants.  On the same day the AG handed the warrants of the arrest to recently reinstated Director of Public Prosecutions, Keriako Tobiko, to determine whether there is a case for extradition.   The MP Chris Okemo and Samuel Gichuru have been listed on Interpol’s online databases for having a red notices requesting the location and arrest of the two. (Red notices allow warrants to be circulated worldwide with the request wanted persons be arrested with a view to extradition.)

The DPP has stated , concerning the extradition,  that ‘the request to extradite the two Kenyans will be processed in accordance with our (Kenya’s) extradition laws and procedure and strictly in accordance with the due process of the law’ and the AG has said that he will only extradite the two if the DPP finds that the two have a case to answer in law.

Legally the two main requirements for extradition are an extradition treaty and that dual criminality exist. Dual criminality requires that in order for an extradition to be successful the crime in question must be a crime not only in the requesting country but also in the country where the person being extradited is residing at the time of the extradition request. The DPP will now look at the documents turned over to him and assess in law whether there is a case to answer.

The ball is firmly in the DPPs court as far as making the determination is concerned. It is worth noting that his reinstatement sparked controversy regarding his record of  prosecuting cases against leaders. It will be interesting to see what determination he will make given the fact extradition law and policy is vague and ill defined. Whatever decision the DPP makes the political implications will be powerful. What signals would Kenya be sending about its fight against corruption if it refused to extradite the two? Similarly would Kenya be giving mixed signals about the application of justice to the rich and powerful, and to poor? Remember the rendition of Kenyan suspects to Uganda.

Also, what are the implications for leadership? MP Chris Okemos is currently the chair of the Parliamentary Select Committee, and sits on the Parliamentary Service Commission considering the issue of warrants and the constitutional requirements concerning leadership and integrity will he resign these positions?

Depending on how the matter develops there may be implications for asset recovery, repatriation of misappropriated funds that are in accounts abroad and how wealth declaration by leaders is conducted.

Needless to say we are watching.