Heard of Wanjiku? Wanjiku is that ordinary downtrodden, overburdened, perhaps barefooted Kenyan, carrying on her back a heavy stack of Kenyan woes.
For the record, Wanjiku was born, and epitomized, when the late President Daniel Arap Moi, with his iron fist, repeatedly declined calls for a new Constitution.
Wanjiku has a brother in the English common law – which Kenyans have dearly adopted – called the ‘reasonable man’. He is that hypothetical person created by legal fiction who sets objective standards by which to measure life.
The plight of reasonable Wanjiku is the one which needs to be addressed, (57 years after independence?) when it comes to Government registries and record keeping.
Sadly, the reality in Kenya is that criminality reigns supreme in every segment where any form of government documentation is required. Fraudsters, in house manipulators and get rich cartels connive, exploit and pervert the systems at will to the detriment of citizenry.
The rich, the high and mighty have the agility, the ability, the resources and the patience even to fight the system in courts and beyond.
Wanjiku, on the other hand, suffers mostly in silence, day in, day out and in every turn has to face the consequences when law enforcement agencies turn a blind eye to all complaints.
I desire to share some unbelievable instances of real life cases in which I am and have been sadly engaged to the consternation of myself and my suffering clients.
I will itemize, in summary, the dilemmas not necessarily in order of their gravity.
1. Mushrooming of parallel title deeds:
I am privy to many cases in which the state agencies such as the Lands Office and Department of Survey generate and create false titles. Existence of duplicate titles is so common that the Land and Environment Courts have hundreds of on-going cases which take years to resolve.
I have known one piece of land and same Land Reference Number having five titles in different names!
Ensuring the sanctity of title documents in any country is the province of the Government – not the courts.
Courts and court process should not be the avenue of resolving the issues. How, when, where and by whom are these falsified titles produced? When will this end? The new Land Law Acts, the National Land Commission, the Commissioner of Lands must come up and help Wanjiku protect her shamba! Who is protecting these fraudsters, within and without the Government agencies?
2. Fictitious Firearm Certificates:
Did you know that there existed and, on authority still exists, falsified firearm certificates – complete with bar codes. Obtaining a firearm certificate without due process has become a fashion. The false and suspect certificates have featured in Courts and are within public domain. Who is behind these schemes which endanger life of law-abiding citizens?
3. Falsified Death Certificates/Identity Cards/Birth Certificates:
Hear this one! A fraudster obtained a Death Certificate of a living man, alive and being looked after in an old peoples’ home. Three attempts at obtaining Letters of Administration from different courts were thwarted, all to reach monies held in a bank. Falsified birth certificates, with false parentage details are not uncommon. Identity Cards and driving licences and vehicle registration books have parallel registration mechanisms.
4. Interference with Court Records:
It is a well-known reality known to officers in the judiciary that the court records and documents are routinely falsified with even judgments forged. I have known a case where there appeared two judgments – one for the Plaintiff, the other one for the Defendant! Falsified court orders, decrees, summons with court stamps all have made mockery of the judicial systems.
5. Insurance Frauds:
A real-life accident! One accident of a bus with capacity of fifty-two (52) and evidence that some seats were unoccupied. Over two hundred Accident Abstracts from the same police station. And courts giving damages to each of the alleged passenger! All attempts to bring the criminality to fore fell on deaf ears. No wonder that the insurance companies have and are collapsing!
6. Sheria House Department:
Falsification of documents at the various registries at Sheria House, in particular the companies registry, are of legendary proportions. Ghost shareholders becoming shareholders of companies by falsification of documents, exclusion of directors and shareholder in company records and returns and other nefarious schemes are a daily occurrence.
Files of companies under scrutiny going missing is not uncommon.
7. Delayed Justice:
Both criminal and civil cases get delayed by scheming parties or down right inefficiency. I am dealing with a criminal case which is over 18 years old! Instances of forgotten remandees in the prisons have emerged.
Now, view all the above collectively and in the totality of the Kenyan picture – the bane of criminality is being carried by none other than our poor and dear Wanjiku – who keeps on dreaming of utopian solutions.
An answer is called for but who will take the initiative?