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President orders vetting of police top brass

COUNTIES
By By JUMA KWAYERA | November 23rd 2013
Police officers in action. [PHOTOS: FILE/STANDARD]

By JUMA KWAYERA

[email protected]

Kenya: The number of security officers arrested for capital crimes in recent weeks has precipitated a rethink of the decision to put on hold police vetting that has been the cause of disquiet between the National Police Service and the National Police Service Commission.

Aware of the political, economic and social risks posed by involvement of law enforcers in crime, The Standard on Saturday has authoritatively established that President Uhuru is now looking beyond the police to unravel delinquency in security services to rein in on runaway crime.

Apparently, the formation of a taskforce on community policing to advise the President on police reforms implementation was precipitated by doubts about the performance of Inspector-General David Kimaiyo, Deputy Inspector General for the Kenya Police Grace Kaindi and Inspector-General for Administration Police Samuel Arachi, which the Executive says is below par, hence the despondency.

While Ms Kaindi cannot make decisions, Mr Arachi has created a structure where AP County Commanders report directly to him, according to a National Police Service Commission (NPSC) report seen by The Standard on Saturday.

Usurped mandates

Security experts aver that the formation of the community policing taskforce, popularly known as nyumba kumi, is an indictment of the Mr Kimaiyo, who faces accusations of failing to articulate policy issues and guide institutional reforms.

Instead, he is accused of being preoccupied with over-concentration of “real power” in his office. Internally, the IGP faces accusations of having reduced his two deputies to sitting ducks, as he has usurped their mandates. Since her appointment, DIGP Kaindi has not publicly demonstrated to be in charge of security; instead it is Kimaiyo who has been running the show.

It is against this backdrop that the National Police Service (Amendment) Bill (2013) that was due for debate and enactment before Parliament break for December recess has quietly been shelved, with one of its leading proponents, Majority Leader Adan Duale, quietly describing it in Parliament as unconstitutional.

It then appears unlikely that the Bill will be disposed of below Parliament break for Christmas after it was inexplicably replaced from the order paper two weeks ago. This was after the chairman of the security committee and Tiaty MP Asman Kamama failed to marshal support to push it through Parliament.

MPs interviewed say the decision to shelve the Bill is informed by the inherent dangers of creating a rogue IGP in the form of a powerful chairman of the National Police Service Commission.

Minority Deputy Leader Jakoyo Midiwo says the recent changes in the Police Service had sounded alarm to the Executive of the risks of vesting in the IGP powers to make all decisions in the Police Service without requisite checks and balances.

Mr Midiwo, the Gem MP, says Kimaiyo’s recent appointments were in total disregard of the Constitution and the law. According to records, of the 47 county commanders he appointed 23 were from Rift Valley, which has alarmed the Executive. The latter has consequently ordered a relook at the mandate of the IGP and how he relates with NPSC.

The President has also directed police vetting that had been in abeyance as a result of wrangling over jurisdiction between NPS and NPSC chairman Johnston Kavuludi be fast-tracked to fill the administrative void rogue police officers have taken advantage of to perpetuate mayhem.

The president is targeting to seal loopholes police officers exploit to commit crimes.

The IGP has also been directed to reinstate security for five members of the NPSC, which he had withdrawn.

Inquiries at the commission offices in Westlands revealed that the deputy chair was last week given back her security while the rest will have theirs reinstated before police vetting gets underway.

Contacted Kimaiyo would not respond to questions about the latest developments in the police service.

However, Mr Kavuludi confirmed vetting of 220 senior police officers was on track as the government takes measures to weed out criminals from the security agencies. Those who make the cut will fill 50 newly created positions while the remaining may be deployed to head county security.

“The exercise has started. But we have to come up with the regulations to guide the vetting, prepare a toolkit for information to be supplied by individuals, the public and investigating agencies. We want also to develop vetting instruments that will enable us to review cases in the event of appeals, allow the public to give information – commendation and complaints,” explained Kavuludi.

He says the instruments will also allow them to get information from government agencies like the National Intelligence Service, Higher Education Loans Board, Credit Reference Bureau, prisons and the Independent Police Oversight Authority. He would not reveal when the vetting commences.

Kavuludi declined to comment on the confusion created by the deployment of county and regional commanders, which security experts and senior officers admit created parallel command structures, where even regional commanders who cannot give orders to subordinates with senior ranks.

Internal Security Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku announced on Tuesday that the vetting will commence on November 26 and end before Christmas. Mr Lenku has promised transformation of the Police Service in 100 days upon the conclusion of vetting.

Security expert, Capt Simiyu Werunga, avers Kimaiyo’s appointments that had created multiple centres of power at county level had stoked despondency in the police and breakdown in law.

“There is a serious shift in thinking upon realisation that the IGP may not deliver. After making appointments that have clogged the command structure in counties, questions have arisen about vesting more powers in his office. So far he has not articulated policies that would turn around the service. That is why the government is looking to another body for advice on what has not been done in police reforms,” says Werunga, a member of the taskforce on community policing.

The failure by Kimaiyo to addresses complaints about salaries, allowances, occupational hazards has created apathy, which Deputy President William Ruto addressed when last weekend he promised to implement a comprehensive insurance scheme to cover police officers and their families in the event of permanent disability or death.

The taskforce has already recommended a review of the county police command structure, where one of the three commanders heading the Kenya Police, Administration Police and criminal department would be appointed to supervise the other two.

Werunga points out: “There is a serious relook at the county police command structure. At present, the commanders do not report to anybody. The IGP had created positions of regional commanders but some of them are lower ranks. This is disciplined force, which means orders are given according to ranks.”

When the Bill that would have given Kimaiyo unhindered powers to run the police service came up for debate in Parliament two weeks ago, MPs gave it a wide berth.

Out of the 17 MPs who contributed, only three supported it.

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