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Editorials

EDITORIAL: Stiff sentences overdue

FORMER PS SAMMY KIRUI (RIGHT) AND FORMER NAIROBI CITY COUNCIL TOWN CLERK JOHN GAKUO IN A NAIROBI COURT ON TUESDAY WHERE THEY WERE FOUND GUILTY OF ABUSE OF OFFICE. THEY WERE EACH SENTENCED TO THREE YEARS IN JAIL AND A FINE OF SH1 MILLION. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NMG 
FORMER PS SAMMY KIRUI (RIGHT) AND FORMER NAIROBI CITY COUNCIL TOWN CLERK JOHN GAKUO IN A NAIROBI COURT ON TUESDAY WHERE THEY WERE FOUND GUILTY OF ABUSE OF OFFICE. THEY WERE EACH SENTENCED TO THREE YEARS IN JAIL AND A FINE OF SH1 MILLION. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU | NMG  

Looters of public funds in Kenya have historically never had to pay for their sins.

This failure to punish big-time fraudsters and thieves -- helped by bungled investigations and power networks -- has become a big driver of mega scandals and other economic crimes in our midst.

It is therefore gratifying when convicted public officials are made to pay, in multiple amounts, the money they stole or lost while in office. That is reason Monday’s High Court decision ordering a former Makueni County official to pay Sh16.7 million (three times the amount he fraudulently obtained), is spot on.

So was yesterday’s jailing of former Nairobi Town Clerk John Gakuo, former Local Government PS Sammy Kirui and two other officials for abuse of office that caused the loss of Sh283 million in the Mavoko cemetery land scam. In addition to the jail terms of three years each, the court ordered that they pay a total of Sh86 million in fines. These cases should serve as signals to all fraudulent public officials that, however long it takes, crime will not pay. The misfortune, however, is that there are only a few good examples of such diligence in dealing with the vice of corruption.

One can only hope that these rulings will mark the beginning of a new era when our courts will deliver justice with speed and send a clear message that it will no longer be business as usual. Netting the perpetrators of fraud and corruption, and making them pay – irrespective of their status -- is the only way to rein in this scourge.

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