Why Kindiki wants IG Koome exempted from parliamentary summons

Inspector General of Police Japheth Koome, on Friday, September 29, 2023, at Kenya School of Government in Lower Kabete, Kiambu County, during a meeting of senior police officers. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki wants police boss Japheth Koome and all service commanders exempted from parliamentary summonses.

Prof Kindiki told a National Assembly committee Thursday that parliamentary probes risk "exposing" the said officers to "political issues". Instead, he wants Interior Ministry officials to appear on behalf of the officers in case there are issues to be addressed.

The Interior CS defended his proposal to the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) saying the National Police Service is subordinate to civilian authority.

"If, for instance, there is a procurement issue at the Department of Defence, this committee would summon the Cabinet Secretary or the PS... and not the Chief of Defence Forces. I am not saying the Inspector General cannot appear before this committee," said Kindiki, proposing that in the event they must appear before the parliamentarians, then security officers should be heard in secret, especially if they are summoned over operational issues.

The CS was responding to concerns by the Githunguri MP Gathoni wa Muchomba-led committee over a letter written to him by Mr Koome seeking "protection" from parliamentary summonses. 

"Please, in the recent past; the service has been summoned to appear before Parliament committees on several occasions which has had adverse effects on our image and service delivery to the citizenry. Consequently, we request that your office protects the National Police Service from these numerous summons by parliament," Koome wrote to Kindiki in a letter dated July 7, seeking that the Interior CS represent them in such sittings.

The letter in question was in response to an invitation by the CIOC over the public spat between Koome and National Police Service Commission (NPSC) chairperson Eliud Kinuthia over promotions in the service.

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki when he appeared before a parliamentary committee in Nairobi on Thursday, October 12, 2023. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Kindiki said he had advised Koome to write the letter.

"I advised that whenever there are operational issues, they can brief us so we can respond to them," the CS said.

But MPs faulted the move, arguing that it undermined the Constitution. Despite Kindiki's assurances that there were no differences between Koome and Kinuthia, lawmakers insisted that Koome should appear before them.

"We are not summoning the IG to harass him but to question him, as the people's representatives, about the roadside declarations he has been making," said Nambale MP Geoffrey Mulanya.

Wa Muchomba lamented that the IG and his two deputies, as well as the uniformed members of the NPSC, have previously snubbed her committee's sittings, attended only by ununiformed members.

"The IG must come here to tell us if the issues were sorted," she said, raising concern over a major rift within the commission.

"The NPSC chairman told us that every time they hold meetings, they are denied quorum by their uniformed colleagues," she said, urging Kindiki to sort out the mess within the NPSC.

Kindiki said he had held discussions with the two, who in June, feuded over whose role it was to promote police officers.

The Interior CS, who once again called out the pair over their spat, said both the IG and the NPSC had a role in promotions. Koome's role, Kindiki said, was to recommend promotions, with the NPSC giving the promotions legal backing.

"We cannot have someone commanding an armed organisation and say that he has no say in the promotion of his officers," he stated, warning that Koome and Kinuthia had risked removal for their conduct.