Nairobi is said to be the most populous city in East Africa, with an estimated urban population of over four million. It has an estimated surface area of 684 square kilometres and a very big population. The cosmopolitan and multicultural city has indeed maintained a lasting legacy from colonial rule. The names of Nairobi streets and avenues attest to this assertion.
Various questions arise as a result of the rumour that the most wanted fugitive, Felicien Kabuga, stays in Nairobi, Kenya.
Should we say that the huge size and population of the city has made it too difficult for the authorities to apprehend the fugitive? My answer is Yes and No, but the former outweighs the latter in terms of reality.
It is true that Nairobi being such a big and overpopulated city may set difficulties when tracing an experienced and rich criminal like Kabuga, but it does not mean that he can hide there for ages.
Even criminals in the world’s densely populated cities like Tokyo, Japan (28,025,000 people), Mexico City, Mexico (18,131,000 people) and Mumbai, India (18,042,000 people), have had criminals brought to book and tried accordingly.
The blame cannot be put on the low level of technology in the region either, because much as we admit that we have a low level of technology, the fugitive too, operates in the same environment.
I do not therefore buy the idea that Kabuga Felicien uses the most advanced technology to keep in hiding. Where could he get the technology that surpasses the one we have in the region?
There has also been a claim that he cannot be apprehended because he is rich and buys everybody off, including government officials. This too, bears little truth because government networks under normal circumstances are too complex to be bought off by anybody. You can only bribe a few individuals, but you just cannot do it with a system. The money issue too is out!
What is evident, however, is that like any other fugitive the man has employed big money and is helped by individuals who are exploiting the environment, which little cares for his arrest.
There is however no concrete evidence that he is in Kenya.
And if he is in Kenya, time for his hiding within the 684 square kilometres and in the countryside is over. Kabuga has almost exhausted all tricks and I do not see why there are still claims that he is still too tricky to be arrested.
The remaining thing is the political will on the part of the Kenyan government (that is if he is in Kenya) and the general vigilance of the international police (Interpol).
INTERPOL, the world’s largest international police organization with 186 member countries exists to help create a safer world by supporting law enforcement agencies worldwide to combat crime. It has an obligation of tracing fugitives who threaten public safety and undermine criminal justice systems.
Much as there are many Rwandan genocide suspects who are still at large world wide, Interpol has greatly helped in arresting many, but should do more. Reliable sources say that the fugitive has vast businesses operating across the region and elsewhere in the world, but we have not had anybody talk about freezing his assets, for example.
There is a general lack of will. The East African states should start an aggressive and targeted campaign to apprehend key persons indicted by the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for serious violations of international humanitarian law, including genocide and crimes against humanity.
Kabuga Felicien ranks number one genocide suspect and there is no reason whatsoever that the newly formed East African community would give, if they fail to fulfil their obligations and arrest him.
And if I can remind some people; Kabuga is accused by ICTR of propelling the Rwandan massacres, firstly, by organising a platform to disseminate the message of ethnic hatred through the radio station, Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), and secondly, by providing logistic support such as weapons, uniforms, and transport for the ‘Interahamwe’ militia groups. He is therefore a man who will continue to set a serious challenge to the East African member states in terms of crime control and prevention. Now that Rwanda is a member of East African Community, it should not handle the Kabuga issue and other fugitives in isolation, but continue calling upon its brother states to take charge.
When we talk of visa issue, common currency, removal of work permits, etc, we should not put limits. There is therefore a need for a holistic approach to all standing issues that put our general development in doubt.
The close cooperation of the East African member states will no doubt bring out Kabuga and others out of hiding to face justice.