By Antony Gitonga and Cyrus Ombati
Kenya: The hiring of County Police Commanders took a new twist after the National Police Service Commission alleged the office of the Inspector General is threatening senior officers who applied for the positions.
According to NPSC chairman Johnston Kavuludi, the threats range from sacking or taking “action” on the officers.
Mr Kavuludi vowed this would not deter them from continuing with the exercise and planned vetting.
He said over 300 officers had applied for the 94 advertised positions despite directives from the IG David Kimaiyo that the exercise had been called off.
Mr Kimaiyo sent an internal memo on Monday, the eve of the deadline for the officers to apply for the positions, informing them the planned recruitment had been put on hold.
He argued the decision was to ensure structures are in place before they deploy the commanders to the counties.
The police boss also said yesterday he is not aware of any such threats as claimed by his employer, NPSC.
“We want this recruitment to be stopped on a temporary basis. We cannot start from up downwards. I am not aware of any threats,” said Kimaiyo. But Kavuludi told off Kimaiyo saying he is playing politics with security matters.
“The IG gave us the police structural organisation in writing and we are shocked when he changes and says that the structures are not in place,” he said.
A letter by Kimaiyo seen by The Standard details various timelines, which he wanted to be met to fill the vacancies and the structure needed.
Kavuludi said the commission, which is the employer of the police, had not suspended the exercise and they will proceed with interviews before the commanders are posted end of July.
“We have reports that officers keen on the positions have received threatening messages from the office of IG but the exercise will continue,” said Kavuludi.
Failure to deploy police commanders to the counties has been cited as part of the cause of rising insecurity across the country.
Yesterday, Kavuludi said there are concerted attempts to derail interviewing and vetting of officers for the position of commanders.
He said all police officers including Kimaiyo and his two deputies would be vetted afresh as per the National Police Service Act.
“All police officers will be vetted. This exercise will determine the competence and suitability of the officers,” he said.
He added that members of the commission are under constant intimidation and threats from various people opposed to the ongoing police reforms.
Kavuludi, who was flanked by his deputy Esther Chui, Commissioner Mohammed Murshid and CEO Elijah Achoch was addressing the Press at a Naivasha hotel. Kimaiyo and his deputies Samuel Arachi and Grace Kaindi have boycotted the meeting, attended by officials from Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board saying they were attending to security matters.
“Let officers know this is a procedural exercise and it is not meant to punish or victimise anyone,” said Kavuludi.
He said vetting will be a continuous process and there will be public participation in accordance with the law.
The issue of vetting has been a thorn in the flesh of many officers, who fear it may be used to punish or push them out of the service.
During the meeting, the commission announced that it was totally opposed to the proposed amendment of the National Police Service Act.
Kavuludi said that the amendment proposed by senior police officers was meant to water down the commission’s powers for ill motives.
“We urge Parliament to reject this amendment Bill in its totality as its unconstitutional and done in bad faith,” he said.
The Office of the President has drafted a new Bill; National Police Service Amendments Bill 2013 with a raft of proposals aimed at weakening the commission. A copy of the draft Bill seen by The Standard is ready for tabling in the House for discussion once the new Cabinet Secretary for Interior is in office.
The draft proposes to empower the IG to have independent powers to promote, transfer and discipline officers. It also proposes to ensure it is the IG who receives reports from the Internal Affairs Unit and not the Commission for interdiction or suspension of an officer as indicated in the original Act.
The Bill wants to empower the National Security Council instead of the commission to recruit Kenya Police Reserve members.
The proposed Bill also wants to introduce a new ranking structure in the service. The new ranks the Bill proposes include that of Senior Assistant Inspector General of Police and Assistant Inspector of Police.
Kimaiyo said he is aware of the amendments but it is not his office that proposed them.