Somalia and the Corruption – The focus of this article is one of Hassan Ali Khaire’s cronies and fixer, Mr. Yahye Ali Ibrahim, also known Yahye Hareri, as we will shed light on his role as the mastermind of the fraudulent activities inside Farmajo’s administration.
By Abdi Dagal Faahiye
The Administration of the former Prime Minister, Mr. Hassan Ali Khaire, has never wasted an opportunity to purport its anti-corruption stunt in order to convince the international community that his Administration is well placed for debt relief under the IMF Staff Monitored Program (SMP) and the World Bank and IMF’s program for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC). But the office has been the source of many corruption scandals within the Federal Government.
These corruption scandals mostly took place in the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Prime Minister. They include bogus import tax exemptions given to cronies of the Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire and misappropriation of government revenue by both the Finance Minister and Prime Minister Khaire. But the focus of this article is one of Hassan Ali Khaire’s cronies and fixer, Mr. Yahye Ali Ibrahim, also known Yahye Hareri, as we will shed light on his role as the mastermind of the fraudulent activities inside Farmajo’s administration.
In 2015, Yahye Hareri become the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs, working under the leadership of then Minister Mr. Abdirahman Odowaa, an Islamist and an ally of the former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. In few years, Yahye Hareri has earned an unmatched reputation as the most notorious official in the Administration, enriching himself with the spoils of Somalia’s meager public resources. Now, we confirmed that he receives salaries and allowances from multiple projects which is not only illegal under the guidelines of the Civil Servant Commission but also violates the agreement with the IMF and World Bank on SMP and debt relief under HIPC.
Looking through the staff payroll, Yahye Hareri still remains in the system as a civil servant with grade A salary of $1,200. His title unchanged. The salary is wired to a private account in Dahabshil on monthly bases.
Office of the Prime Minister (OPM)
The Office manages several projects in which the Prevention/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) is just one of them. The project was initially under the Ministry of Information, but with his political clout through the PM, Yahye brought the project under the OPM portfolio. And there he obtains a whopping monthly allowance of $8,000 as coordinator.
Despite that, Yahye Hareri cashes in $7,500 per month from the Reconciliation and Federalism (REFS), an inter-agency project between the UNDP, Ministry of Interior and the OPM. Yahye kicked out Mr. Jaffar Jama who was the focal point person of REFS to the Office in part because he had symbiotic relations with UNDP’s former senior staff. Sources from UNDP confirm that Jama and two other staffers salaries were repackaged to fit Yahye’s higher consultancy needs as a political operative.
As though the triple dipping was not sufficient, there is also another $5,500 stipend that goes to Yahye from the OPM’s operational budget, where Yahye was listed as senior advisor to the Prime Minister. The author verified this from an official source at the Office who spoke with a condition of anonymity.
With that, the author estimates the illegal cash stream to be over 22 grands per month. The loopholes in the system provide potential swindlers a wide latitude to exploit both government coffers and projects managed by partners. However, what we couldn’t verify was the amount paid to Yahye under NISA payroll, Somalia’s spy agency, since he’s actively involved in its operations as a colonel.
Reconciliation in Sham Process
Known for his glib and shrewd calculations, Mr. Yahye was able to lead the process of “Galmudug reconstitution” with full support from the deposed PM Hassan Khaire, who provided him the mandate to engineer the process in order to produce a favorable Administration. Within days, Yahye secured appointment of counterpart officials from the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs, including Ms. Sadia Elmi to handle the logistics and financial management, an ally he previously installed in both the Ministry of Interior and the Office of the Prime Minister.
Some of the business owners contacted in Dhusamareb confirmed that Yahye was responsible for guaranteeing payment of services incurred by the Ministry, including rental cars, provision of accommodations and cost of refreshments. These business owners admitted lack of understanding of the public institutions as well as the background of those they engaged, for instance, Ms. Sadia and Mr. Yahye.
The doctored Galmudug process was used to milk the international partners as well, including NIS Foundation, USAID and FCA, among others, to shoulder the expenses incurred to reset “Galmudug State.” An estimated $1.5 million were allegedly secured from partners who paid highly inflated services through ghost firms in Dhusamareb. Meanwhile, budget allocations from the Ministry of Finance were used as well to move the process forward. All these parallel processes involved in cash and some unaccounted money.
Drought Response Committee
In 2016, a deadly drought battered much of Somalia, which displaced thousands of families from the country’s breadbasket and agricultural regions. A response committee was formed in which Yahye was the secretariat under the chairmanship of Shiekh Nur Barud Gurhan to raise lifesaving funds for starving drought victims.
The committee resisted to provide any accountability to the funds raised or how the proceeds were distributed among drought victims per region. In one account, Yahye was alleged to have contracted a clansman, a well-known owner of a Hotel in Mogadishu, to facilitate distribution of food aid shipments from Turkish Government which eventually ended up in Bakara market.
Mogadishu Stabilization Initiative At the appointment of Hassan Khaire, Yahye threw himself into the mix by claiming security credentials to lead the stabilization initiative of the capital, which was a major priority for the administration to address frequent terror attacks by Al Shabaab. But the initiative ended up in catastrophic failure. The Administration invested on the initiative with millions of taxpayer’s money, beefing up security personnel at almost all major intersections in the capital. According to an insider privy to the initiative, Yahye was alleged to have siphoned off millions of dollars from the budget intended for operations and to pay for the soldiers.
Ministry of Health
The Covid-19 pandemic was another opportunity for Yahye when he realized that the ministry is going to be the recipient of the aid from donors. Moving with speed, Yahye devised a two-pronged strategy
(1) to trap the Director General, Mr. Abdullahi Hashi, who poses a threat to his ‘reform agenda’, and (2) to place himself well at the entry gate of the upcoming aid. The first played well against Mr. Hashi who allegedly misappropriated medical supplies donated to the ministry and was apprehended for it.
The second strategy proved effective as Yahye orchestrated smoothly his ‘reform agenda’ by driving the day-to-day management of the ministry while sidelining the minister and her deputies. With his cronies and co-colluders in place, again Yahye didn’t hesitate to appoint Ms. Sumaya Elmi Duhulow – a close relative and the daughter of well-known Parliament Member who was a junior doctor – to the management of Martini Hospital, which deals with the treatment of Covid-19 patients.
Any Precedents for this Case?
On May 21, 2020, the Civil Servant Commission issued penalty and fines against Mr. Yonis Hassan Hussein, who double-dipped salaries from two institutions, namely the Presidency and the National Commission for Refugees and Internally Displaced People. Yonis’ case was a clear act of double-dipping which is illegal under the laws of civil servant commission. But for Yahye, his corruption was apparently ignored by the very administration that penalized Yonis for a crime which pales in comparison with Yahye’s apparent graft and daylight robbery. Why, because of impunity and leaning on a powerful politician which sent clear message: don’t mess up with Khaire’s political tentacles!
Yahya’s Background in UK
Yahye sought asylum from the United Kingdom in early 1990’s, who become a British citizen soon afterwards. According to his friends in Tottenham, Yahye has never graduated from a university with a degree. This expels the rumor that he obtained a doctoral degree from Britain’s academic institutions. He owned a phone accessory shop.
He returned to Mogadishu around 2008, where he taught social sciences to undergraduates at the University of Somalia. Within few years, he parted with the University to open his own school with almost a similar name: Somalia International University. In the process, he swayed many students from his previous employer towards his new school, which drew criticism from officials at the University of Somalia. According to one administrator, Yahye was “a remorseless fraudster.”
Because of his involvement in higher education, the owner of the accessory shop become popular with Professor Yahye. As a result, the school he founded became successful, among the key players in higher education institutions in Somalia, despite being also a source of diploma mills. During the height of the famine in 2010- 2012, Yahye made a name for himself by facilitating the movement of aid using his connections with Al Shabab and Somali businessmen who were contracted to move aid to famine affected Shabab-controlled areas.
Several people who knew him over 40 years described him as hard worker but erratic, brilliant and a highly convincing salesman. But they also agreed that he used his positive attributions for destructive motives, i.e. corruption, fraud and abuse of authority. Among the corrupt officials in Farmajo’s Administration, Yahye displays the hallmarks of what ails Somalia’s political culture – corruption with impunity.
Yahye Hareri is also alleged as a sexual predator using his position of power, taking advantage of vulnerable women and young girls. People who know and close to him allege that he has exploited the trust of young women and has not changed an iota to this day. The culture of power abuse and exploitation of women and young girls is becoming a widespread practice by Somali men in position of power. Considering the cultural taboo of sexual abuses and violence in Somalia, women are reluctant to come forward and report sexual abuses. And the government has failed to provide any meaning protection for the rights of Somali women and girls against these predators.
These incidents show, not only was Yahye untouchable, but he also embodies a true case of someone with political impunity. In January 2018, Mr. Abdi Farah Juha, then a Minister of Interior and Federal Affairs, fired Yahye for sabotaging and mismanagement issues. In few weeks, Juha was sacked together with two other cabinet ministers while Yahye Hareri got promoted to a powerful senior advisory position in the Office of the Prime Minister where he oversaw the work of the Ministers.
Recenly, the Office of the Prime Minister issued a warrant to recover all bulletproof vehicles, including Yahye’s, which is the property of the Government. Upon enforcing, Yahye’s vehicle was suddenly recovered. But the ensuing political fallout forced the newly appointed Permanent Secretary, Mr. Abdirizak Ato, to be fired because Yahye’s clansmen in politics threatened out loud with violence against the President’s clan.
In Somalia’s post-conflict situation, Yahye will always be the winner, while the rule of law ends up unenforceable. This is the story of Somalia’s clan and politics dynamics; and sadly this remains the source of intractable bad governance since the independence of 1960.
By Abdi Dagal Faahiye
Mr. Faahiye is an Investigative journalist, researcher and independent consultant.