By Shadrack Andenga Odinga
A regional court in Mogadishu, Somalia on Monday sentenced four senior health ministry officials for up to 18 years in prison over corruption and misuse of public funds.
“We have listened to this case at least 14 times, and these officials have been found guilty of corruption and public money theft,” the court said adding that five other ministry officials have been released after being found not guilty.
The convicted officials have been in custody for over three months as the public waited eagerly for answers, after Somali security forces arrested the officials in April on charges of embezzling official funds donated to curb the coronavirus outbreak.
Abdullahi Hashi Ali, director general of the health ministry, was sentenced to nine years in prison with a $2,366 fine.
Mohamud Bule Mohamud, director administration and finance department, was given an 18-year jail term, whereas head of accounting Mahdi Abshir and head of Malaria and HIV/AIDs Bashir Abdi were both imprisoned for 12 and three years, respectively.
This comes amidst corruption allegations in Kenya where it is estimated more than 43 Billion shillings have been lost as the country fights the Coronavirus pandemic with donor funding.
On Friday, KEMSA board chairman Kembi Gitura issued a statement that CEO Dr Jonah Manjari, directors Eliud Muriithi (Commercial) and Charles Jume (Procurement) have been suspended pending investigations.
To add salt to injury, Kenya’s second largest political party ODM issued a statement in defense of the alleged corrupt officials.
What Kenyans want is to have just a single top government official jailed so as to serve as an example to the other ones who steal public funds shamelessly, even during times of stress and depression.
Or, could they have been sent to jail as they waited for those investigations to be completed?
Maybe it’s time Kenya, a powerful economy in East and Central Africa took a leaf and learnt from war-torn Somalia, a country that is recovering from an economy that had nothing in its accounts, but now all they have is integrity, honesty and above all the love for their country.