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It’s just a theory: How Big firms like Safaricom flex muscle to perpetuate injustice in the corridors of law

Safaricom Chief Customer Officer Sylvia Wairimu Mulinge (Left) and CEO Peter Ndegwa,

Kenya is ranked number 124 out of 180 countries in the Transparency International corruption index, 2020, tied with Bolivia, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, and Pakistan. The least corrupt countries are at the top of the list.

The National Police Service is the most corrupt institution in Kenya since the EACC report started ranking state institutions.

The third arm of government, the Judiciary, follows closely as one of the most corrupt government entity where cases are determined by who bribes the judge the most.

There was a common saying in Kenya during President Mwai Kibaki’s time that went, ‘Why hire a lawyer when you can buy a judge?’.

Though it isn’t a famous saying for those who have not stepped inside courtrooms in Kenya, the saying paints the picture of what usually happens. It shows how the rich get away with the most heinous of crimes or how corporate Kenya manages to win court cases against the common mwananchi easily.

National Intelligence

Take the example of the National Intelligence Services (NIS) wing of the Kenya government aka Safaricom Plc.

I’ve had the privilege of reading court submissions from the lawyers hired to represent this Telco; and just like those Investigative officers from DCI; they blubber in court and are very shallow.

It is therefore strange how Safaricom Plc wins cases.

READ: REVELATIONS: How The Corrupt Kenyan System Works

Frustrate the accuser

Safaricom will frustrate the accuser because they have the financial and NIS muscle to do so.

Am aware of a copyright infringement case first brought to my attention about 5  years ago where Safaricom is accused of using an artiste’s music on its Skiza Tune without authorization. How such a small case has dragged on for over 7 years is anyone’s guess.

To me, it was an outright infringement, and though Safaricom removed the music from its platforms, the man must be compensated. But, strangely, he might not.

The second case in point is the one involving M-PESA 1Tap, where the decision by the court came in late last year that Safaricom was not in the wrong.

The inventor had signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement with Safaricom but they broke the law, went on to copy his invention and launched it. If they are not guilty, why did they stop using it?

Strangely why did the court not punish Safaricom for intellectual property infringement?

Let’s concentrate on the first, financial. Having fleeced wananchi for over a decade, this monopoly has the financial muscle to bribe anything walking the face of Kenya.

When the hammer falls, the Bank or Telco would’ve bribed the judges heavily. The revelations about the rot in the Kenyan Judiciary as exposed by former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko showcases just a tip of the iceberg.

In the Intellectual Property cases that Safaricom has won, against a lot of youth, despite glaring illegalities – such as not respecting Non – Disclosure Agreements (NDA) and even KIPI-registered intellectual properties are not spared the onslaught.

The cost of litigation is higher but Safaricom, for example, will not feel any pinch because they have money to bribe around, not so for the innovator whose intellectual property has been stolen.

READ: IP Watch Article: Intellectual Property Theft By Corporations in Kenya

The theory on how injustice happens

This is just a theory but might be confirmed true in the coming months.

Let me be poetic here, this is just a theory and will be confirmed true in the coming months

Safaricom controls a lot of information including those of judges who are unlucky enough to find themselves having to rule on cases involving the Telco.

With access to voice calls, text and voice records; this Kenyan Telco can do a lot of damage through arm twisting.

For example, a judge might be threatened using a text or a call that the Telco holds. A judge can further be threatened through CCTV image geld by its sister ‘company’ the NIS.

Will you make a judgement that goes against someone that has threatened to leak your data online?

As a married judge and maybe a church elder of great repute, will you make a judgement against someone who has a video feed of you in the company of a certain lady, who is not your wife, entering a secluded hotel room?

Conclusion

Kenya is a corrupt country and the banks, the Telcos (Safaricom mostly), etc, hold a lot of sway in matters that are decided in court that might impact their business.

This is unfortunately not how a country should run, but it is in Kenya.

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