Parliament takes flak as Ipoa seeks reforms

Kenya: Former Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo and former Internal Security Minister Joseph ole Lenku were on Tuesday forced out of office, but their appointment to sensitive functions of government still begs serious questions.

To security experts, the exit of Kimaiyo and Lenku provides a moment of self-analysis. Focus shifts to the role of Parliament after MPs controversially amended the National Police Service Act and the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) Act last year to aggregate “real power” in the office of the Inspector-General.

Independent Police Oversight Authority (Ipoa) chairman Macharia Njeru, who has consistently been calling for re-evaluation of national security policy, says the rising insecurity is a result of absence of a clear command structure.

In the principal law Parliament amended in its bid to have one centre of power, NPSC should have had a role, but the mandate was transferred to the IGP as the former was charged with only human resource functions.

After last Tuesday’s murder of 36 Kenyans in Mandera, barely a week after 28 others had been slaughtered, Ipoa wants the Executive and the Legislature to streamline security management to forestall further attacks by Al Shaabab. Mr Njeru says criminals have a field day because “the Inspector-General has been unable to create a capable command structure to ensure harmonisation of police activities.”

Interestingly, Kimaiyo spoke to The Standard on Saturday just hours before President Kenyatta compelled him to resign.

“There is no accountability at county level as Kenya Police, Administration Police and Criminal Investigations Department operate as parallel services,” he said.

Retired military officer, Col Benjamin Mwema, says the discordance in response to security threats in the country has been predictably slow and uncoordinated, which exposes the country to further attacks.

“If you don’t have the information and intelligence, it is not possible to formulate the general picture of security. It becomes even more difficult to deal with specific security threats,” says Col Mwema.

The former Kenya Defence Force officer explains that although everybody in the security sector knows what should be done, lethargic reaction to serious security breakdown has unnecessarily exposed the country to terrorism and banditry.

Preventable attacks

“Terrorism is an insurgency. It is no longer a police issue alone, it is a national issue. There should be a national command and coordination centre for rapid and effective response to any threats. As it is, everybody (the army, Kenya Police, Administration Police, General Service Unit and National Intelligence Service) is acting independently and issuing conflicting instructions. Our response thus been reactive,” Col Mwema explains.

The Mandera attacks, according to regional Governor Ali Roba, were preventable had the security agencies only acted on intelligence provided to them. During the Mpeketoni, Lamu and Mombasa church attacks, all security agencies demonstrated culpable inertia. The situation was similar last month when 22 officers were massacred in an ambush by cattle rustlers in Kapedo, Baringo County.

Dr Mohammed Ali, a specialist on conflict and security in East African and the Horn of Africa describes Kenya’s security collapse as an outcome of a breakdown administrative and governance issues.

According to Dr Ali, “The architecture of security in the country gives the impression that it is meant for the Executive and Legislature. The ordinary people do not feature in law and order enforcement machinery. Al Shabaab therefore finds it easy to penetrate in Kenya ...”

He posits that the envisaged transformation of the security forces into a civilian service has yet to take off, while the much talked about community policing is a complete flop.

“If you compare Kenya’s security set with its neighbours’, ours is structured to serve the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.Compared to Ethiopia, Sudan, Tanzania and Eritrea, ordinary people constitute informers who feed the security machinery with necessary information. It is rare to hear of Al Shabaab targeting Ethiopia or Djibouti, yet they have troops in Somalia,” Ali says.

Reacting to the dismal of Lenku and nomination of Kajiado Central MP Joseph Nkaissery to replace him, Prof James ole Kiyiapi criticised the president and his deputy for failing to make security a “people participatory” issue.

“Such appointments should focus on restructuring the management of security in the country. The environment has changed and it should not be business as usual. The president must lead by calling together political leaders for candid discussion,” says Prof Kiyiapi, who vied for presidency in the last elections.

Part of the criticism Kimaiyo faced was his failure to implement section 10 of the National Police Service Act, which requires the holder of the office to create a command structure from the national to county level. For the nearly two years he was at the helm of the police service, he devoted his energies on field operations at the expense command and control of the security machinery.

“Without the issue (command structure) being resolved there is more to come. There is massive incompetence in the police service. It is an issue Ipoa has raised and they (police chiefs) are angry that we have been raising it. The NPS should not blame security breakdown on lack of resources. In the country’s history, this is the only time the police have more vehicles and personnel at their disposal,” he adds.