By Lillian Wamuyu
The name Noordin Mohammed Haji spark into the limelight following his nomination as the Director of Public Prosecution by President Uhuru Kenyatta in early 2018. Little was known about Mr. Haji then, at least not in the public domain. It was during the vetting process and consequently his approval by the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that members of the public had the opportunity to learn a thing or two about the man who would later be appointed head of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution.
Haji was born on July, 1973 in Kilifi County to a father who was a civil servant and mother who was a high school teacher. His father’s job involved working in different parts of the country thus he and the family enjoyed living and interacting with diverse people from various regions and cultural background. From a young age, Haji learnt an appreciation for diversity and a deep acceptance of people from all walks of life. “This exposed me to the rich diversity of our Kenyan cultures allowing me to appreciate, at an early age, our interdependence as a society,” he said.
Mr. Noordin credits his character and value system to his parents; values such as integrity, honesty, fairness and justice that he wishes to see inculcated in the DPP’s office. Though he carries the tag of his family name and the association of his prominent father, Mr Haji insists that the independence and integrity of his person and that of his office should not be put to question.
Haji’s presentation of his credentials to the interview panel projected a person who was confident and expressive. Born and raised in a fairly prominent family, no doubt he had the opportunity and privilege to pursue his studies in law in leading universities both locally and abroad. Further, Mr. Noordin career in different leading positions in public service has offered insights and an edge in understanding the operations of the criminal justice system. His career interface has been marked by progressive growth and achievement which had culminated to the position of Deputy Director at the National Intelligence Service prior to his current posting.
Focusing on his academic and career accomplishment, it was not a shocker that he sailed through the vetting process and landed into the prestigious yet dreaded position of the DPP taking over from Keriako Tobiko. For a man, who little was known about, the burden of Kenyans expectations and hopes rested on his shoulders. Surprisingly, in a few months into his position, he had won the confidence of most Kenyans if public surveys and opinion polls was anything to go by. Members of the public were impressed on the arrests of high profile individuals on charges ranging from corruption, to abuse of office. Luckily, his office has managed to sustain the public optimisms that during his tenure there would be no sacred cows as all suspects from all cadre of life would face the same wheels of justice.
Notable high profile charges under the DPP’s sleeves include Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Migori Governor Okoth Obado, Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, corruption charges against National Youth Service directors, departmental heads, Kenya Power directors, and Kenya Pipeline employees.
Haji’s swift attempt to penetrate a complex justice system has earned him friends and foes alike as some people applaud him for his role in fighting crime and corruption, his critics have loudly raised dissatisfaction on his fashion of doing things. Specifically, the style of carrying out arrests on Fridays and to what others consider to be ‘targeted suspects’ especially with state officers. Further, his call on state and public officers to step aside whenever they are faced with charges in court has rattled many. Speaking in a media interview, Haji noted, “It’s a mockery of the whole justice system when an official who is charged with a serious crime goes back to office midway through the court process and is therefore able to manipulate evidence and intimidate witnesses. This has to stop.”
As a show of commitment to his intents, Mr. Haji moved to the anti-corruption court to obtain a declaration that both state and public officers should step aside whenever they are charged and wait for the court verdict. Haji has decried the role of the Judiciary in the prosecution process, non-discriminatory granting of bails to suspects, technological constraints and unresponsive laws as major hindrances facing the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Haji has obviously a tough mission ahead, charting his own path away from public opinion that there are political forces behind his every move and maintaining public confidence on the independence of the Office of the Deputy Prosecutor. Granting, it maybe a little early to make an inference on his performance barely a year into the office, the odds point to an exemplary performance and admirable collaboration with other state agencies including the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, The Judiciary, The Supreme Court and other partners and stakeholders. His short stint as the DPP has been marked with outstanding performance which earned him recognition and honours by President Uhuru Kenyatta when he was awarded the Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear(CBS) First Class category for his distinguished efforts in the fight against graft.
Haji’s absolute war against powerful state government officials and cartels who have thrived in lawlessness and graft has perceptibly caused a disruption in the business and political environment. With massive high personality profile cases still on trial, Haji and his dedicated team can only push the mechanisms of law and justice. Until then, members of the public can only keep their expectations alive that he will be the man under whose tenure, corrupt state officials, unscrupulous business persons, rogue leaders, and any other organized crime suspects will be successfully prosecuted.