Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday urged the country’s young people to make citizens arrests on those they suspect of corruption, including members of their own families.
Speaking at an event in western Kenyan town of Kisii during celebrations of International Youth Day, Kenyatta urged people to help root out corruption in all forms of society.
“Youth must be at the forefront. Even if it’s your father who’s engaging in a corrupt practice, you should be able to speak against it,” he declared. “Whether it’s a police officer, MCA or an MP any other leader, carry out a citizens arrest and hand them into the police.”
“Nobody should intimidate you in this war just because they have a lot of money,” he continued. “If you successfully carry out the arrests, the wealth they own illegally will be repatriated to the public kitty. The power is in your hands to end this vice in our country. You must take it up. Don’t fear anyone.”
Kenyatta’s remarks were immediately met with skepticism given that all corruption cases will be handed to the police, who are notoriously corrupt and open to taking bribes in exchange for immunity.
The 56-year-old leader insisted that he would continue to wage war on corruption, having declared it a “national security threat” and announcing measures such as lie detector tests. Speaking at an Evangelical church, Uhuru even admitted he was willing to “lose friends” over his crackdown.
“Over the last few weeks, I have lost many friends. Many have called me asking, how can you be watching when all the destruction is going on? I say; a time has come to fight impunity,” he said. “Let us lose friends and do what is right in the eyes of God. We shall gain other friends. Let us create a society that respects and treasures hard work and integrity, a nation with a conscience.”
However, an effort by the country’s National Police Service Commission has been criticized for failing to drive out corrupt officers, with the force’s leaders admitting that abuse of power is still widespread. As noted by the AP, “Very few people are prosecuted for corruption even though authorities say that graft siphons off up to a third of the government’s budget, or nearly $6 billion a year.”