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The goverment probing Homa Bay senator Otieno Kajwang over irregular citizenship for Indians

Homa Bay senator Otieno Kajwang

Homa Bay senator Otieno Kajwang

The government is probing Homa Bay senator Otieno Kajwang over citizenship certificates he issued while he was Immigration minister. The CID prepared a confidential report in 2011, obtained by the Star, that accuses Kajwang work permits and citizenship to foreigners without proper documentation. The report was never acted on but has now been dusted off and was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions two weeks ago.

“We are focusing on Kajwang because majority of this decisions were made when he was minister and we have forwarded the file to the Director of Public Prosecutions,” a senior official in the Office of the President yesterday.

The DPP’s office confirmed that it has received the document but is yet to decide how to proceed. Kajwang has denied any wrong doing and said that the investigation was politically motivated to discredit the opposition.

“I did not do anything wrong as minister because the law gave me the authority to make the final decisions,” said Kajwang yesterday. The 2011 Serious Crimes Unit report showed that many of the 5,752 people who obtained Kenyan citizenship certificates between 2005 and 2010 did so without proper documentation. The vast majority of the new citizens were Indians.

The report dates back to 2005 and covers the periods when Gideon Konchella, now an MP, and Linah Jebii Kilimo, now chair of the Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Board, were responsible for immigration.

Of the 104 cases sampled in the report, Kajwang handled 60, Konchella 34 and Kilimo 10. About 124 “suspect files” were not availed to investigators.

“In most cases, the minister granted citizenship without due regard to the observations and recommendations by the Security Vetting report and the Citizen Advisory Committee,” said the report signed by CID chief investigator John Nyanzwii.

Action on the report stalled after it was realised that the Kenya Citizenship Act gave ministers “unfettered discretion” in granting citizenship. The minister could grant or reject an application and his or her decision would be final and not subject to appeal in any court. The minister also had the final say on entry permits.

Of the 104 cases reviewed, 52 were granted citizenship against or without recommendation of the Citizenship Advisory Committee. In 19 cases, there was no proof of Kenyan parenthood, in 12 no proof of Kenyan marriage while in 10 cases certificates were forged.

Four cases were not approved by the Security Vetting report, two lacked valid entry permit, and two involved deportees. Between 2005 and 2010 there were 5,752 people who obtained Kenyan citizenship, of whom 5,181 were Indians. The remainders were mainly Pakistanis, Somalis and Tanzanians.

Most of the issues with Kajwang highlighted by the CID involved ignoring the Citizenship Advisory Committee. For example, on October 19, 2009, the committee refused to endorse a Sri Lankan’s, Nagarathan Thavangarag, application for citizenship because the security vetting report indicated that he was involved in illicit activities.

“However on November 12, 2009 the minister approved his citizenship and noted ‘The applicant ought to have been prosecuted on the allegations,” the report says.

Similarly the committee deferred the recommendation for Prabhjit Singh, an Indian, pending confirmation of the security report. However a few days later in November 2009, Kajwang approved it noting, “The applicant had a valid work permit and security report was not tenable.”

Kajwang also rejected the findings of the security vetting reports for Abdul Bassit, a Pakistani, Devang Mehta Shashikant, an Indian, and Naran Vagjiyani, an Indian.

Other applicants were not investors, lacked special skills, were “of no economic value” or lacked genuine documents but were still granted citizenship.

Under the former constitution, people could obtain Kenyan citizenship if they were women married to Kenyan citizens, had resided in Kenya for at least five years, or were born of Kenyan parents.

Persons eligible for naturalization had to be 21 years of age, lawful Kenyan residents for one year prior to application, and have spent an aggregate of 4 years in the country in 7 years.

The CID found that most of those granted citizenship applied for entry permit under Class A which they kept renewing until they met requirements of continuous stay in Kenya.

The investigators said that the ministers acted legally but ignored administrative procedures. They recommended an overhaul of the law on citizenship and further investigations of five particular cases.

-The Star

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