Four senior Health Ministry officials in Somalia have been sentenced for up to 18 years in prison over corruption and theft of public money.
The officials, who were in custody for over three months, had been arrested in April on charges of embezzling funds donated to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abdullahi Hashi Ali, Director-General of the Health Ministry, has been sentenced to nine years in prison and a $2,366 fine.
Mohamud Bule Mohamud, Director of administration and Finance department, jailed for 18 years jail term, while the Head of Accounting Mahdi Abshir and Head of Malaria and HIV/AIDs Bashir Abdi were imprisoned for 12 and three years, respectively.
The ruling to jail the Somali officials over graft was made by a regional court in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
“We have listened to this case at least 14 times, and these officials were found guilty of corruption and public money theft,” the court said.
Kenyan on Twitter, alias KOT, applauded Somalia for the bold decision in the war against graft and asked our anti-graft officials to follow suit and arrest officials accused of embezzling COVID-19 funds.
COVID Billionaires – Theft of donated Covid-19 equipment
Jack Ma donates Covid-19 medical equipment to Kenya
This comes in the wake of reports that donations of Covid-19 equipment to Kenya from Alibaba founder Jack Ma and the Chinese government were stolen and allegedly sold to Tanzania.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) has already confirmed that detectives from the DCI’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) office are looking into the cases.
Jack Ma donation to Kenya comprised of 100,000 face masks and 20,000 testing kits, which arrived at JKIA on March 24.
Sadly, the country has been experiencing a shortage of testing kits, which has seen health officials shelf over 5,000 samples.
Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe in March acknowledged the arrival of the COVID-19 medical equipment from Jack Ma Foundation, comprising of testing kits, protective gear, masks and other medical equipment.
“We have received 25,000 testing kits from Jack Ma. We are thanking our medical fraternity for fast-tracking testing and other health services they are offering,” Kagwe said during a press briefing.
Some Civil Society Organisations and activists have also carried out a series of countrywide protests to call for the arrest of government officials who have been accused of stealing COVID-19 equipment but in the typical Kenyan police fashion, the demonstrations have been cut short prematurely after the police teargas the protesters.
Several protesters have also been arrested in the process.