Felicien Kabuga is a Rwandese fugitive on the run. He has been at it for the past 18 years. With a Ksh 400 million bounty placed on his head by the Americans, this man can only rival the late Osama Bin Laden in value.
The story of Kabuga and the successive Kenyan regimes is an interesting one.
If one considers that Kabuga was one of the movers of Africa’s deadliest genocide way back in 1994; and assuming that this criminal has been hiding in Kenya ever since as alleged, then it means he was in Kenya for at least eight years under Moi’s regime. And, considering that President Kibaki has been in power for close to ten years, one can deduce that both presidents, both regimes share the blame for harboring a criminal of that crude nature.
Assuming that all these years, Felicien Kabuga has been in hiding in Kenya, a country that is a senior member of the EAC, then who is hiding him and for what? How can one criminal no matter how wealthy convince two different regimes for over two decades to give him cover? Did he part with so much money to strategic personalities that have served the two regimes such that it is now so difficult to either hand him over to the international criminal court without spilling the beans or even eliminate him? Is Kabuga blackmailing people who gave him protection in the first place?
But perhaps our penchant for hobnobbing with criminals should not come as a surprise to many observers. We are all aware of our past escapades with a number of criminals within our borders. We never seem to see anything wrong in having business deals with known characters of the underworld.
Take the case of the present Al Shabaab menace. For a long time the world rumored that there was so much unaccountable foreign exchange flowing into Kenya either from Al Shabaab financiers or pirates operating along the Somali coastline. The authorities that should have raised hell kept mum. Only years after conceding ground to these criminals did we realize what we had found ourselves in!
The terrorists started hitting us right here on our soil on account of being friends of the Americans. Had we sealed our borders to dirty money finding its way into our borders that criminal gangs wanted to legitimize; we would today not be fighting Al Shabaabs in Somalia. Had we taken a hard line stand against terrorist agents and unwanted guests across our borders the way Ethiopians, Tanzanians and Ugandans did, we would today not be suffering terrorist casualties as regularly as we do.
Soon after Felicien Kabuga had been in Kenya for at least 10 years, Kenya played host to two known drug lords- the Artur brothers for a good six months. Unlike Kabuga, they were a pair of arrogant bling bling low grade thugs hat strolled our streets and VIP airport lounges at will, occasionally receiving red carpet treatment.
Here was a pair of international criminals that we even unprocedurally bestowed upon the titles of Assistant Commissioners of police, allowed to drive around in government vehicles, import goods and guns duty free and even threaten to shoot any customs official who dared to question them.
Believed to have been untouchable due to their connections with the highest powers in the government, the pair had access to all government facilities including State House. It was even believed that the same Artur brothers were the masterminds of the Standard media raid in 2006 which was later justified by the then Internal Security Minister, the late John Michuki.
When it was no longer possible to contain public anger at these buffoons, the government bought them first class tickets to leave the country. What was discovered in their wake was total embarrassment to the government. A cover up commission of inquiry set up by the President to investigate the activities of these criminals is yet to be made public eight years later.
For many years, it has been rumored that Malindi town in the coastal region of Mombasa has been a safe haven for Italian criminals who have run away from prosecution back home to buy land and build villas. These seemingly wealthy foreigners have been accused of abetting child prostitution and drug dealing yet the Kenyan authorities have taken a lenient approach if not indifference to the complaints of the local community in the coast region.
Kenya’s handling of Omar El Bashir’s case in another example of our dalliance with criminals. We have never seen it fit to shun individuals accused of crimes against humanity. We have found it easy to stand shoulder to shoulder with Bashir the international fugitive as the spirits of the dead cry for justice in Darfur.
Closer home, our own four brothers accused of crimes against humanity on our own soil has seen a concerted effort by the government to protect them from prosecution at The Hague. The amount of resources we have spent trying to convince the AU and the United Nations to defer their cases has been mind boggling.
Need we wonder that Felicien Kabuga is still being shielded in Kenya?
The tragedy is; we have so much more to lose by going to bed with criminals than exposing and punishing them.