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Over a dozen officers in the immigration department at Nyayo House have been arrested and charged in renewed efforts to dismantle cartels frustrating reforms in passport processing and issuance.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki told MPs on Thursday that 17 officers were arrested in a crackdown following an intelligence-led investigation.

“Detectives are also zeroing in on more culprits in a renewed push to dismantle the complex cartel that has long frustrated the reform efforts at Nyayo House and other immigration offices across the country,” the CS said.

Kindiki made the revelation on Thursday while appearing before the National Assembly’s Committee on Regional Integration.

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In September last year, the government initiated an ambitious programme aimed at transforming the immigration department and launched a crackdown to rid Nyayo House of corrupt officials following a public uproar about the sluggish processing and issuance of passports.

On February 23, Kindiki announced a fresh crackdown at Nyayo House and affirmed the government’s commitment to rid the Immigration Department of corruption and hold those found culpable to account.

“Those found culpable will [be] removed from service and held personally accountable through prosecution and surcharges,” Kindiki said in a statement.

On Thursday, the CS acknowledged the gravity of the challenges and persistent sabotage witnessed at the department’s premises and operations but assured MPs that action was being taken to streamline operations.

He said his office has taken up all public communication responsibilities on matters pertaining to the processing of passports until the department is fully streamlined.

Kindiki further told MPs that the government is also taking steps to address budgetary constraints that have over time partly contributed to delays in the processing and issuance of documents at the Immigration Department.

He said the government has already settled the Sh380 million pending bills that had contributed to the backlog at the State Department, adding that the National Treasury has granted the department the green light to retain a percentage of its revenue to address its budgetary constraints.

In his statement on February 23, Kindiki took the blame for the slow pace of reforms at Nyayo House which he partly attributed to years of under-investment in passport production infrastructure.

He, however, assured that efforts had been made to secure the necessary funds and settle outstanding supplier debts which had affected seamless passport printing.

—Source: The Star

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