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Uncertainty over Mbugua’s fate sparks succession battle

By Edwin Maina | November 2nd 2019

Deputy Inspector General of Police Edward Mbugua.

Delay by President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Eliud Kinuthia-led National Police Service Commission (NPSC) has kicked up a fresh succession storm in the Police Service.

For three months, the President and the police commission have remained silent on the fate of Deputy Inspector General Edward Mbugua who is still in office after attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60 in July.

And five senior officers survived ouster from the National Police Service after the NPSC failed to meet yesterday.

The five earmarked to be removed include a former provincial police chief, a former Kenya Police College Kiganjo commandant, an officer in the police legal department and a senior officer in the human resource department in the office of the IG, Jogoo House.

Also in the same group is a former section head at Vigilance House. The President and the NPSC play the pivotal role in deciding whether the deputy IG, who is in charge of the regular police, will continue serving either on contract or exit Vigilance House.

In 2016, MPs amended the law to give the President powers to pick the police chief.

National Assembly made changes to the Miscellaneous Amendments Act last month.

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The Act repealed the National Police Service Act 2011 section 13 by removing the role of Parliament.

The law provides that the President shall, on the recommendation of the National Police Service Commission, appoint the Deputy Inspector-General of Police within 14 days of a vacancy occurring.

The changes greatly affected the functions of the NPSC which has been reduced to a rubber stamp in the selection of new police bosses. Senior officers eyeing the top positions have been engaging in all manner of tricks including seeking the endorsement of senior politicians and power brokers.

So intense is the lobbying that candidates eyeing the seat have hired bloggers to write negative stories about their competitors.

Night meetings

Night meetings between politicians and top cops seeking favours to occupy the DIG position are increasing by the day.

Some candidates have been trying their luck by exploiting the handshake between the President and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The murky succession wrangles have since sucked in Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai who is said to have crafted a list of senior police officers whom he wants to be removed from the service and redeployed to the Public Service Commission (PSC).

Some officers interpreted this move as an effort by the police chief to influence succession politics.

Sending senior police officers to PSC is gaining popularity among new police chiefs especially those who have come from outside the service.

The reasoning behind such transfers is that some senior officers especially those seen to have been eyeing the same position as the incoming police boss may be a threat.

Yesterday, Mutyambai denied claims that he had a list of senior officers he wants ousted from the service and plans of influencing Mbugua’s successor.

“I am not in the picture,” Mutyambai told Saturday Standard on phone.

The police boss also declined to comment on the fate of Mbugua. “I don’t know,” he said.

Should such plans succeed, authors of this succession plot will have total control on who becomes the new DIG.

The last bunch of three senior police officers to have been sent to PSC happened in 2018.

Highly placed sources familiar with the plans told Saturday Standard that NPSC chair Eliud Kinuthia who has been leading his commissioners on a field tour of police stations has been asked to cut short his trips and return to Nairobi for a meeting on the pending changes.

Kinuthia and his team were expected back to the Skylark offices in Westland’s on Friday.

“We have been under a lot of pressure to sanction the changes but we have remained put,” NPSC commissioner said.

The commission failed to meet yesterday as planned.

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