PM Roble Splashed By Revelation Of Land Grab

General Abdihamid Dirir

Somali Navy Commander General Abdihamid Mohamed Dirir accused Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble of looting naval land and building a house there. The revelation of the land grab was received like a bomb in the circle close to the Prime Minister who rush to exonerate him.

He said it was “unfortunate and disappointing” that naval land property was plundered by senior leaders headed by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and that he would not allow such theft. The commander also said he will not stand idly by while the naval forces’ land is looted and added that they recently planned to build offices there.

General Dirir warned that, as a sworn officer responsible for the Somali Navy and Coast Guard, he will not turn a blind eye to this looting and will not give in to any threat. He added that as long as he is the commander of the navy, it will not be possible to encroach on this land and loot the public domain.

On October 27, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo got wind of reports that senior state officials were grabbing state land and public real estate, he decried a freeze on all transactions relating to public property during this election period.

Following this decree, the Prime Minister scrambled to appoint four ministers whom the public already suspected of corruption. The most notorious among those appointed ministers were two ministers so disparaged for the profits they made in the misappropriation of public property.

First, the new Security Minister, Abdullahi Mohamed Nur, nicknamed “30 years-30 million”, who stands with Roble wherever he sets foot, is infamous for making a quick fortune by diverting humanitarian aid from of Turkey, and by levying a percentage of taxes from the Port of Mogadishu when he was Deputy Minister of Finance in the previous administration.

Since then, he built the Elite Hotel on 344 hectares of public land misappropriated during his time as Deputy Minister in 2013 and thwarted any attempt from any local or federal government to investigate the origin using kinsmen within the Army. He also reportedly prevented the current administration from collected taxes on his vast investments.

Second, a month ago, at a press conference in Mogadishu, some traditional leaders in the Benadir region called for immediate action to be taken against education minister Abdullahi “Arab” Abukar Haji’s abuse of power for his corrupt practices.

The Education Minister was accused of profiting from the distribution of scholarships. The elders stated that the minister demanded large sums of money in granting scholarships to students in the Benadir region or gave preference to certain clans. They also accused the minister of using public health establishments in the Benadir region for his personal gain.

Corruption, which was prevalent under previous administrations, is becoming more and more apparent since May when the Prime Minister Roble was given more responsibilities to run the country. For instance, last June, the director general of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Mohamud Abdullahi Sheikh Abdi, has been accused of widespread corruption within the ministry.

The Director General of the fisheries ministry has reportedly embezzled large sums of money to modernize the professionals and other equipment of fishermen, who often do not receive the support they need. It was also confirmed that the Director General, along with Minister Abdullahi Bidhan Warsame himself and other political actors, were part of a scheme to license vessels illegally fishing off the Somali coast.

Since cash from the World Bank, IMF and other donors have been tied up by the Minister of Finance and Security in the central bank of Somalia, those seeking to get rich at the expense of the citizens divert non-monetary aid or sell public goods to make money.

The loosening of discipline within the government is evident in the way Commander Dirir spoke to the media without going through his chain of command. However, calling the public to witness also means that the naval commander no longer trusts his civilian superiors and the young chief of staff, General Odowa Rageh, who cares less about politics than about the security transition plan.

These revelations show signs that this administration, known for its efforts against rampant corruption, its financial discipline and its professionalism, is slowly crumbling under this long-delayed electoral mess.

The mismanagement of the elections and these scandals, in this case the reappearance of corruption, unprecedented internal conflicts, nepotism and abuse of power, which splashed this administration this year have become widespread under Prime Minister Roble leadership.

The appointment of a prime minister who had never held a public office, had no political experience and no particular expertise last year had already demoralized veteran and loyal cabinet ministers. Prime Minister Roble, after messing with the elections, paved the way to indiscipline, neglect of duty, the contempt of pre-established rules and, now, the rush for state-owned land.

To make matter worst, Mr. Roble has been decried since he teamed up with disgraced politicians and was reportedly offered millions by the Presidents of Djibouti and Kenya, two hostile nation, to prevent current president from returning to office.

Now, having never been blamed directly by another senior official, Roble is moving heaven and earth to be exonerated from these recent land grabbing charges. Another investigation has been launched which many expect to exonerate the prime minister without any repercussions on the whistleblower.

In a healthy political environment, this kind of leader would be prosecuted, forced to return stolen property and either voluntarily resigned or forced to do so under these increasingly undeniable revelations. But emerging institutions, increasingly weakened, prevent such direction that would have restored public confidence in their leaders.