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Kinoti on wrong side of the gun as opinion split over his tenure at DCI

 Former DCI boss George Kinoti. [File, Standard]

In his life as the senior most investigator, former Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti rubbed shoulders with politicians, prosecutors, judges, journalists and business leaders.

In the four and a half years Kinoti spent on the job, he gained fame and infamy in almost equal measure. Yet, for a man used to be the one holding the cards; pointing accusing fingers, Kinoti, 55, is today finding himself at odds. He is facing the wrong side of the gun.

Out of the job, the vultures are circling, as investigations into extra-judicial killings gather pace, and the ring surrounding the former DCI boss closing in on him.

Predictably, the investigations into extra-judicial killings have set President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga against each other as the hapless detective seems caught in the middle.

The fingers are pointing at Kinoti and the reputation of an anti-corruption detective he had built, is collapsing fast. In his heyday, Kinoti's name was synonymous with a long weekend behind bars for suspects. On Fridays, graft suspects would cower and shiver as they did not know the hour Kinoti would strike.

He and Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Hajji became known for the 'Kamata Kamata' Fridays. From high-ranking government officials to those who considered themselves VIPs, suspects would spend the entire weekend behind bars after which they would be hauled in court the following Monday.

Day or night

To the DCI, it did not matter your rank or profile as long as he had a grain of evidence linking you to an offence. All that was required was the consent of the DPP and Kinoti would come for you from any corner and at any time of day or night.

Among the people who faced Kinoti is current Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua who on the morning of July 23, 2021 was hauled from his Mathira home on suspicion of corruption.

Detectives from the DCI Serious Crimes Unit headed by Senior Superintendent Obadiah Kuria had arrived at the lawmaker's home at 5am and snapped the MP out of bed.

A battery of DCI investigators, some of who were heavily armed and in a convoy of DCI Subarus had arrived at the MP's house on instructions of their boss. And after about five minutes in the home, Rigathi who was reportedly still in bed, was bundled into a DCI Subaru and driven to Nairobi at a neck-breaking speed.

Gachagua was facing corruption allegations in a Sh7.3 billion case touching on suspicious transactions between the MP and government entities. Gachagua was at the DCI headquarters on Kiambu Road by 9am where he was immediately processed.

The police were directed to lock him up at the Nairobi Central police station for the weekend but after a lot of persuasion, Gachagua ended up at Muthagari police station where he spent the weekend on the cold slab.

Gachagua would eventually complain about the rough treatment from Kinoti and his team.

He has publicly complained that Kinoti was used by the previous regime to harass and intimidate individuals who differed with the government.

And when Gachagua and Ruto ascended to power; the case against him was withdrawn by the DPP who has publicly confessed that he was pushed by Kinoti to press charges against the DP.

Kuria, who has since been transferred to Turkana and named County DCI boss, has sworn an affidavit supporting the withdrawal of Gachagua's graft case.

Gachagua case

Obadiah told the court that it would be prejudicial to continue with the case against Gachagua and nine other suspects due to the gaps in the investigations. He asked the court to drop the matter under Section 87 (a) of the Criminal Procedure code (CPC).

"There are crucial areas of investigations that were not adequately covered in the course of our investigations that would shed some light in determining the culpability or otherwise of the accused persons charged," Obadiah says in the affidavit.

Former DCI head of Investigations Bureau John Gachomo, another close ally of Kinoti, has also thrown his former boss under the bus. Gachomo also swore an affidavit claiming his former boss coerced him to lie.

In his affidavit filed in court, Gachomo revealed that hat he was compelled to lie and sign an affidavit implicating Court of Appeal Judge Justice Sankale ole Kantai to the gruesome murder of Dutch businessman Tob Cohen.

Gachomo told the court that Kinoti duped him into signing the explosive document to implicate the judge.

Said Gachomo: "I can confirm that the contents of the affidavit dated September 27, 2021, are neither based on facts nor documents from the file held by my office. The contents of the said affidavit are false and therefore retract, deny any knowledge and could not have been uttered by myself."

The affidavit was deposited at the the High Court Constitutional and Human Rights Division in Milimani. Kinoti's exit from office appeared to be a perfect opportunity for those who had issues with him to finally come after him. His exit from the Kiambu Road office drew mixed reactions.

There are those who think he had a sterling performance as the DCI boss but there are also those who believe he was a gun for hire.

Trusted DCI unit

The events that followed his exit from office including the arrest of nine officers linked to one of Kinoti's trusted DCI units; the flurry of affidavits implicating Kinoti with wrongdoing while in office have put the DCI under the spotlight.

In his last address to colleagues at Mazingira House, Kinoti struck a conciliatory tone asking for forgiveness from anyone whom he may have wronged. Behind the scenes, the exit of Kinoti from the powerful headquarter was a journey full of intrigues, highs and lows.

Kinoti, the once powerful DCI, who had the last word in all matters of investigations, spent his last days in office fighting for survival.

Earlier, there had been hopes he would be allowed to continue in office for another 12 months. This was not the case after President Ruto in a televised address from State House, Nairobi, announced he had received resignation letters from Kinoti and IG Hilary Mutyambai.

There were photos of Mutyambai shaking hands with the president at State House. There was not a single photo of Kinoti and the president of the event when the two police chiefs are said to have delivered their resignation letters.

A source familiar with the events told The Sunday Standard Kinot may have been prevailed upon to resign. The announcement came as a shocker to close allies of the former DCI boos.

Ruto announced picked Kenya Police College, Kiganjo, Commandant Japheth Koome to replace Mutyambai as the next police chief. Unlike before when he had unfettered access and ear of the President, the new administration did not accord him such privileges. He is now supposed to be attached to the Public Service Commission where his designation remains a mystery.

Until his exit, the source said, Kinoti did not attend any of the powerful security meetings nor did he have a chance to brief Ruto on security matters.

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