NAIROBI: The recruitment of 10,000 police officers took place Monday, with different players terming it free and fair.
In Nairobi, candidates thronged City and Nyayo stadiums as early as 6am as those who did not make it by 8am were locked out.
David Onyango said he had walked from Kibera and arrived just when an officer was closing the Nyayo Stadium gate. “I walked all the way. I had no bus fare. It is sad I didn’t make it,” he said walking away.
According to the National Police Service Commission (NPSC), the exercise was to start at 8am and end at 5pm in all recruitment centres at the constituency level. “But special consideration has been given to Wajir South, Wajir North, Saku, Laisamis, Moyale, Turkana North and Isiolo North constituencies, which have been granted two centres each, only on account of the huge geographic expanse in respect of each of the said constituencies,” said NPSC in a statement signed by Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett.
The recruits are expected to report for training immediately amid terror attacks. Unlike previous exercises, medical tests were conducted at the recruitment centres.
Of the 10,000 recruits, 6,000 are expected to report to the Kenya Police Training College in Kiganjo, Nyeri County as 4,000 recruited as Administration Police officers report to Embakasi, Nairobi County.
Among those who were turned away were those who lacked either of the molars and pre-molars, those who had flat feet, those who had problems closing their eyes at intervals and those who lacked their school-leaving certificates.
At one time, Sikuda had a difficult time explaining to a candidate, whose three teeth were missing, why he could not join the force. “I have been eating even bonny meat and it has not affected me,” the recruit argued as he was led away.
Residents protested being locked out of the City stadium as the officers maintained that they did not want external interference. Observers were, however, allowed in. “The exercise is going on well. We have not received any complaint from the public,” said Daniel Orogo from Usalama Watch.
At Nyayo Stadium, the gates were open to the public who helped the recruiting officers in determining positions of those who participating in races. At one time, two candidates, who were in the lead, were forced to run an extra lap after the officers failed to recognise their win. But they were allowed to move on to the next stage after the public protested.
In Narok County, low turnout marred the exercise as the NPS commissioners toured Narok North and South sub-counties’ in which the recruitment was nullified over irregularities last year.
Speaking during the start of the exercise at Maasai Mara university, NPS Commissioner Ronald Musengi claimed: “This time round our officers, OCPDs and county commanders, whom we have deployed randomly, are conducting the exercise for fairness.”
Musengi added that the NPS would abide by any court ruling on last year’s nullified recruitment.
Meanwhile, police have arrested a man who allegedly presented a fake Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education certificate at the General Kassam stadium, Kirinyaga East sub-County.
The candidate was at pains to explain how he had obtained the document when accosted by the head of the recruiting team in the area, Police Superintendent Ancient Kaloki. “This certificate does not have a watermark proof of originality,” Kaloki said.
The officer in charge of the station Quantai Kabugo said most of those who turned up for the interviews had scored grades C+ and above. “We have even interviewed university graduates,” he said.
Another incident was reported in Narok after a recruit was arrested for allegedly presenting a forged document in which he had altered the mean grade. “We arrested one young man who had scored a mean grade of D- and had amended the certificate to read D+,” said George Seda, Kajiado OCPD who is the recruiting officer.
Seda said he was, however, surprised the area graduates decided to keep off the exercise.
“We had indicated D+ and above and this also means diploma, degree, masters and even PhD holders,” he said.
In Naivasha, tens of youths were turned away for lacking school leaving certificates despite the recent Government directive that principals release academic papers. The lakeside town also recorded poor turnout in the exercise.
Unlike in previous years when many were turned away due to discoloured teeth, this year officers overlooked this.
Naivasha MP John Kihagi, who was among those at Kihoto grounds, said: “The exercise has recorded poor turnout due to the fiasco surrounding the previous exercise and we hope that this one will be free and fair,” he said.
Baringo Central OCPD Charles Musewe said: “Apart from the issue of school leaving certificates everything else is smooth though we have noticed poor turnout,” he said.
One of those affected, Bernard Mariga, said after a visit to his former school he established that the Education ministry had not made the certificates available.
Among those whose recruitment was nullified last year was 28-year-old John Maina. He was a disappointed man as he watched the Nyeri town recruitment exercise at Ruringu Stadium.
“I came to try out my luck again this year because last year I was selected to join the General Service Unit and had reported to GSU Embakasi training centre only for our luck to evaporate into the air,” Maina said.
However, there was more bad news for him after he was turned away because he was two months older than this year’s cut-off age. “They told me that only people who were born after April 1987, were eligible for recruitment locking me out because I was born in February 1987,” he said.
And, Peter Migwi, 27, who was also successfully selected last year, attended the exercise but said he would not try again as he had lost faith in the process.
As the police exercise went on Monday, the High Court threw out a petition seeking to stop it. High Court judge Mumbi Ngugi dismissed the case filed by 95 youths whose recruitment, last year, was quashed.
Moses Kurgat and Ainea Burache filed a suit arguing the NPSC’s decision to recruit new officers is illegal as there is a matter pending in court. “Stopping the fresh recruitment at this stage is not at the interest of justice or the public interest,” Justice Ngugi ruled.
—Report by Kibiwott Koross, Antony Gitonga, Caroline Rwenji, Robert Kiplagat, Munene Kamau and Lydiah Nyawira