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Bribery claims rock police vetting

By Hudson Gumbihi | February 9th 2016 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Fresh bribery claims have hit the National Police Service Commission (NPSC). Some senior officials have been accused of receiving huge bribes to clear corrupt officers during vetting.

A confidential letter purportedly authored by disgruntled police officers and addressed to President Uhuru Kenyatta claimed as much as Sh1.5 million was paid to some members of the commission to clear senior officers with questionable integrity.

The Standard established that the bribery allegations had split the commission. At the centre of the claims are 12 senior police officers said to have been cleared after paying bribes.

It was alleged the cost of clearing corrupt senior officers ranged from Sh300,000 to Sh500,000, although some paid as much as Sh1.5 million.

Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) Chairman Macharia Njeru said they had heard of several corruption complaints but it had been difficult to investigate since officers were not ready to give specific actionable information.

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“We have heard of the complaints generally. The matter can only be taken up by the anti-graft agency or any other body. IPOA does not have the mandate to investigate the commission. But should there arise evidence of impropriety against a specific officer, that is when we can take action,” said Njeru.

But NPSC Chair Johnston Kavuludi denied claims of bribery in exchange for favourable vetting reports.

Kavuludi said the intention of the threats on his life and corruption allegations was to cripple the work of the commission.

 Extortion Cartel

“Some officers want to scuttle the process. It is something that has been well orchestrated to pour scorn on the vetting exercise. They want to show that vetting is a sham by scaring me, which is a whole lot of nonsense. If I am corrupt, let me be investigated, whether I received any money and from who,” said the chair.

The letter alleged a National Intelligence Service agent leads an extortion cartel that thrives on coercion.

But Kenya Police Spokesman Charles Owino said the allegations were instigated by faceless characters out to malign hardworking officers.

“Why write anonymous letters, be open so that we can face you,” said Owino. Kavuludi said he was beyond reproach, adding he had never received money from any officer being assessed by the vetting panel.

“I have information that they want to kill me, they even want to know where I live. I stand steadfast and I am ready to be investigated on everything I own,” said Kavuludi.

Though Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and DCI Director Ndegwa Muhoro said they had not received the letter, The Standard independently learnt that investigations into the source and origin of the letter had started.

Boinnet however warned the authors of dire consequences stressing that it was a serious offence to issue death threats against any individual or Kavuludi.

“If it is brought to our attention, we will investigate to establish the motive and those behind it. If caught, they will face the full force of the law,” he said.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Deputy Secretary Michael Mubea said he had not seen the letter. State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said: “I haven’t seen it. Secondly, we don’t comment on letters from faceless people.”

First Phase

NPSC has already concluded the first phase of the vetting process that targets the 77,495 officers. The first phase had 2,000 officers vetted and the ongoing second phase, which began last October, targets 12,000 officers in the service.

The exercise will see all ranks of officers in the traffic department, officers in charge of police stations, their deputies and administration police officers who command stations vetted.

The vetting process, which began in June 2014, saw 2,000 senior officers from the rank of superintendent vetted, out of whom 1,272 were cleared while 29 others required further probe.

Of these, 63 senior officers were sacked — 32 in the rank of senior superintendents and 28 superintendents.

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