Confusion in the Kenya's police command structure contribute to insecurity

To tell you the truth I am extremely frustrated by this insecurity issue. I don’t know whether it is I who is going crazy or whether certain things just happen not to make sense any more these days.

Quite honestly certain decisions made in government baffle me. Isn’t it obvious—and what I think is obvious may be contestable—that we have a constitution very different from what we were used to since independence. But the government seems to make decisions and create institutions as if nothing happened on August 27 five years ago. Let me explain.

Chapter 14 of the Constitution dealing with National Security at Article 239 establishes the following national security organs: (a) the Kenya Defence Forces; (b) the National Intelligence Service; and (c) the National Police Service. The principles of National Security are clearly laid out in Article 238 and the National Security Organs are expected to “promote and guarantee national security in accordance with the principles mentioned in Article 238 (2).” (see Article 239:2).

Further, the composition of the police force is also very clearly laid out in Article 243. It states: “There is established the National Police Service which shall consist of: (a) the Kenya Police Service; (b) the Administration Police Service”. In the event that there is need for any other “police services”, Article 247 states that “Parliament may enact legislation establishing other police services under the supervision of the National Police Service and the command of the Inspector-General of the Service”.

Where, in all this, does the entity called the County Commissioner, or the Regional Commissioner if you will, come in? Has Parliament enacted any legislation bringing in the County Commissioner as part and parcel of the apparatus on National Security System? How about the creeping role of the National Youth Service in all this? But let us, for a moment, stick to the Commissioner. I may be dumb, but quite honestly I have looked through the Constitution and other laws and found this creature nowhere.

At the county level we have a big problem with the command structure in the security docket. Who is the final authority on security matters at the county level? Is the County Police Commander, the County AP Commander or County Commissioner the boss on security matters? Where does each one of these offices derive their powers from? I am quite sure that both the Police and AP Commander come under the Inspector-General of Police. How about the County Commissioner? He is an employee of the Office of the President, hence answers directly to the President. But why does the President need a civilian to be the overall command on matters of security at the county level when he is the Commander-in-Chief of these security forces? What happens to the command chain of the Inspector-General of Police?

If you ask me, I think these confusing command systems are the major cause of confusion in the security docket purely from a layman’s point of view. And the confusion one often hears that intelligence information was given in time but no action was taken comes from this labyrinth of authority systems which become dysfunctional at one time.

For example, I am quite sure that the tragedy in Garissa University would have been avoided if fewer cooks were allowed in the kitchen preparing, transmitting and executing intelligence information. Let each organ in the national security system do its work professionally. Mr President, you are the Commander-in-Chief of these organs; get them to work professionally.

In Kisumu, for example, we have a big problem with security. Rising up early in the morning to go work has become a life threatening hazard.

You are likely to be slashed to pieces by some God forsaken criminal who is never traced or brought to justice by the police. Reports has it that this phenomenon started soon after the NYS boys arrived in town. Otherwise why do these killer gangs get away with murder so easily?

Which brings me to the insecurity emanating from Somalia and the logic of building a wall along the Kenya-Somali border to keep us secure. Wrong. The wall by itself will not do much. The security arrangement along the border is more important coupled with a well-coordinated surveillance system. In any case the thing is not a wall: which makes me much happier.

From what I have gathered, it is a series of concrete barriers, fences, ditches and observation posts overlooked by CCTV stations that is expected to stretch from the Indian Ocean to the town of Mandera where Somalia and Kenya meet with Ethiopia. But if we bring in the confusion currently prevailing in the command system of our security system all this infrastructural investment may come to naught.

That is just my layman’s point of view; let the experts take it or leave it. But our defence and foreign relations committees of the two houses of Parliament should undertake a joint mission to this border and verify what is being done. Who is doing the work? How was the contractor identified? What is the quality of work? Let us not wait until the Auditor General begins telling us tales of woe a year from today.

Finally, on the issue of guns. When I was at the Alliance High School in the 1960s, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta used to go around Central Kenya receiving Mau Mau fighters surrendering their guns and promising to join normal life in a liberated Kenya. These were our heroes coming home to enjoy the fruits of what they had fought for. But one month ago I saw the Deputy President in North Rift asking bandits to register their guns with the government. I was wondering how can a Kenyan be asked to register an illegal firearm? I thought the DP could have done better: follow Mzee’s footsteps to ask these illegal firearm owners to surrender their weapons and join us in the honourable task of nation building.

Which reminds me. On the second of February 2010, a huge security operation was carried out at businessman Israel Munir’s home in Narok where 31,000 bullets were recovered following a shooting scene that could have passed for a Hollywood gangster movie. The journalists who covered the event reported that police first laced meat with sleep-inducing drugs and threw it over the fence into the compound where Munir’s 50 dogs lay waiting to pounce on trespassers.

The moral of this story; our security forces are sophisticated enough to recover illegal arms in all ways, including James Bond-type of actions. The truth is; they will not always exhaust these methods due to vested interests! But registering illegal arms is the most perplexing one.