Prison commanders are being forced to fleece prison enterprise funds to remit vast amounts of money to top officials, investigations by the Star reveal.
The details emerged after the security breach at the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison that saw three terror convicts escape.
It is believed the trio could have been aided in their escape.
“You can’t escape from Kamiti, more so from the unit holding terror convicts. The unit holding the terror convicts is a maximum prison within the prison,” a source familiar with the intrigues told the Star.
“The rot runs deep. Money changed hands. We cannot just tell how much but it was a lot. We believe DCI George Kinoti will unearth some of these cases in the probe,” the officer added.
Interviews pieced together from multiple station commanders reveal an unwritten rule that the officials have to remit almost half a million every weekend.
“We have felt helpless against this group that had taken over the department. Transfers and reduction of responsibility follow when one fails to remit the money,” one station commander told the Star.
At the moment, the State Department for Correctional Services is in a spot over irregular payments of nearly Sh1 billion to suppliers who did not make any deliveries to the Kenya Prisons.
A fresh audit shows that the department paid out Sh975.7 million in respect of pending bills on behalf of various prison stations in the fiscal year 2017-18.
“However, verification of the payment vouchers at the stations revealed various irregularities as…suppliers who were paid at the headquarters were not known to the stations,” Auditor-General Nancy Gathungu said.
Some commanders have been forced to take credit facilities to remit the required monies to the widely-networked cartel chiefs.
And others have run into trouble after refusing to accept food supplies from non-prequalified suppliers – including some senior officers.
Refusing to comply results in transfers and demotions, among other sanctions, in events that reveal the rot pervasive in the department for years.
“Officers are asked to pay retention fees to keep their jobs,” another officer said.
“Those asking for the money expect us to draw it from the Prisons Enterprises Fund and the money sent to us by the exchequer for running the stations.”
Officers also complained for being fleeced hundreds of thousands of shillings in the pretext of being helped to secure promotions.
The victims of the racket have been shying away from raising complaints after losing out on the slots.
They alleged that some suppliers, who are cronies of senior state officials, are also fighting back after losing business in supplies of shoes, uniforms, and mattresses.
Sources within the Prisons Service told the Star in confidence – so as not to compromise an active investigation – that the moral decay has compromised prisons’ security.
“The cartel runs deep in the prisons system fleecing officers in charge of prison stations.”
The source added that the recent breakout of three terror convicts at Kamiti is part of the rot in the system.
Authorities further explained that terror convicts are at no time mixed in the cells, leaving questions on how Musharraf Abdalla Akhulunga, Mohammed Ali Abikar and Joseph Juma Odhiambo were mixed.
“The fact that they were moved tells of how the plan was choreographed. They were escorted and chauffeured out by unscrupulous officers acting for powerful people to whom the convicts are of high value,” an officer explained.
“There was no breakout. The capital offenders are always under surveillance. Such high profile jailbreaks can only happen through the blessings of persons in a higher position.”
Detectives handling the case have been combing the premises to join the dots on how the escapees chiselled a hole through the wall without leaving any debris.
Detectives are also seeking to unearth why the CCTV cameras failed on that day amid concerns the convicts could have been heading to a bigger mission after the breakout.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on November 17 revoked the appointment of Wycliffe Ogalo as Commissioner-General of Prisons to pave way for investigations into the jailbreak.
Ogalo was replaced by Brigadier (Rtd) John Warioba who has since transferred five senior officers amid the ongoing investigations by DCI boss George Kinoti.
The new prisons boss has embarked on a cleanup of Magereza House where the cartel is said to be thriving, by virtue of protection by bosses within the ranks of the service.
Senior government officials who are privy to the probe said they believe the officers behind the Kamiti jailbreak were also part of the breakout in Nanyuki.
Six hardcore criminals were among 16 convicts and remanded persons who escaped the Nanyuki Prisons in September and in another facility in the North Rift.
The breakouts, authorities believe, is the new cash cow for the cartel that had thrived by retaining cash meant for paying suppliers.
“The trend was not to pay suppliers. This provided them with ready cash from enterprise proceeds. There was a general feeling there was money in the prisons,” some officers claim.
On assuming office, Warioba, said he’d respond to the concerns that arose from the Kamiti jailbreak.
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