I saw traffic officers extort bribes, President tells top police bosses

President Uhuru Kenyatta is received by National Police Service Commission chairman Johnston Kavuludi and Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett at the CID Training School in Nairobi South C yesterday.

During his long working holiday in Mombasa, President Uhuru Kenyatta came face to face with corrupt police officers. Two traffic police officers, he says, blocked his motorcade to extort money from passengers and motorists.

Addressing top officers of the National Police Service in Nairobi yesterday, the President narrated his encounter with the two officers:

Juzi nilikuwa Mombasa... jameni mtu amesimamisha gari katikati (ya barabara), akichukua pesa kutoka kwa abiria. Sasa jameni, wale ambao wote including myself, ambao tulikuwa nyuma tunaona mtu akiokota pesa, unafikiria mtu atafikiria namna gani? Eh? Tuambiane ukweli! Eh! (The other day I was in Mombasa and someone had stopped the car in the middle of the road taking money from passengers (in a PSV). Can you imagine? All of us who were behind watching, what were we supposed to think?). As commanders, you must set the right example and not allow these kinds of things to happen!” said the President.

Addressing the Inspector General’s Conference that brought together more than 200 top officers at the Police Pavilion in Nairobi’s South C, a furious President Kenyatta said a few “elements” were giving the entire police force and his government a “bad name”.

“It cannot be that the police are going to be deemed, year after year, as the most corrupt, most vile, the most everything (bad) when it comes to public perception and yet we know it is very few people (who are responsible for this),” said the President.

The conference was attended by Regional Coordinators; County and Formation Commanders; County Criminal Investigations Officers and their Administration Police counterparts, and other senior officers from the police headquarters.

“A few of us go out there and give the majority a bad name, and you know very well what I am saying. We must accept that we must remove these small negative elements in our midst,” said the President.

Police sources told The Standard on Sunday that the incident happened on January 11 at night. When the presidential guards saw the police vehicle blocking a matatu and obstructing traffic on the Makupa Causeway, they got out and arrested the officers; bundled them into the police vehicle and drove them to the Makupa Police Station where they were locked up for three days.

According to police sources, the officers were set free on Friday and dismissed from the service.

Obstructing traffic

In their defence, the police source said, the two officers, a corporal and a constable, said they saw the matatu obstructing traffic and stopped to question the driver who claimed the vehicle had stalled. As they were figuring out how to get it off the road, the motorcade arrived.

They said they were not aware that the President’s motorcade, which was coming from the direction of the Moi International Airport, was scheduled to use that road.

President Kenyatta told the top officers: “We must ensure we give people the right environment within which to work, there is no point to disturb citizens. Let’s sit down and talk and agree what is needed, there’s no reason whatsoever to harass mwananchi so that you get a few shillings. We have to agree. That must end!”

He warned that the corrupt officers who tamper with evidence and seek the protection of the law to hide their crime will not be tolerated.

“So long as you do your job in good faith and in the spirit of public interest, I will defend you totally. We must defend and protect the majority in this country,” said the President.

In the police vetting, the National Police Service Commission found that most junior officers usually send money to their seniors.

The top brass spent Friday with the Director General of the National Intelligence Service, Philip Kameru, discussing security threats and strategies in the country.

The agenda of yesterday’s high-level meeting with the Head of State was to ask him to intervene and see to it that officers are better equipped to work, have better housing/living conditions, get better pay and access better insurance cover. Crime hotspots, including the Meru-Isiolo border conflict and cattle rustling, were also discussed.

“As of today, two MI 17 Helicopter troop carriers have been taken for complete overhaul, while a new helicopter has been procured. It will be arriving in the country in the next few weeks. I anticipate that by June this year, we shall have two new helicopters, and three refurbished units brought back to near-new condition. This will improve our ability to quickly move troops to any trouble spot,” said the President.

He added: “In order to provide protective gear to the officers deployed in volatile areas, I am proud to announce that for the first time in the history of this country, the National Police Service will be provided with Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs).”

The President promised that the police officers’ pay would be reviewed at intervals of four years. For now, he said, he wants the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to conclude the job evaluation, and then set the parameters to be considered prior to a pay review. He said the insurance will be renewed, and promised that the shortfall of 100,000 housing units for police officers will be settled within the next five years.