The declaration that the State would revisit the 2007/2008 post-election violence cases quickly snowballed into a security crisis that invoked high profile conversations before a humble pie was served.
By noon yesterday, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti had swallowed the very words he was generously dishing out during a Monday presser, which shocked many.
The calls and the reprimands were coming in fast and furious. In Parliament, 45 MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto accused Mr Kinoti of being a hatchet-man in a bigger scheme to botch his (Ruto) 2022 presidential ambitions.
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And the DP waded into the matter, tweeting that the DCI boss’ statement was aimed at provoking ethnic hate.
Kinoti told a press conference that 118 victims had recorded fresh statements for purposes of investigations.
“My address was in no way intended to mean that we are going to open completed cases, which were investigated and closed. It was an acknowledgement of concerns raised by Kenyans, to assure the public of the commitment to investigate all reported threats to security and to sensitize the public on the need for peaceful co-existence,” the DCI boss said in the statement.
Before he took back his words, a series of high-level meetings and consultations had taken place, during which a decision was reached that Kinoti retracts his statement, and abandons his mission altogether.
The feeling was that the DCI boss had over-reached himself and that the announcement had brought a lot of confusion in the country. Further, it was likely to be deployed for political mobilisation.
What stocked the fire further is that the DCI had not consulted or informed any of his seniors before making the announcement.
Police procedures require that officers inform their bosses of their moves, especially those with serious implications.
It was felt that by informing his boss, the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai, reference could be made to the National Security Advisory Committee for discussion and advice.
So bad was the situation that the IG yesterday afternoon held a closed-door meeting with Kinoti over the matter.
In their hard-hitting statement in Parliament, Ruto’s allies claimed that the DCI’s announcement was the last option after he had failed to bring the DP down. They claimed the move was intended to fan confusion in the DP’s strongholds.
”The provocative incitement to ethnic hate/division intended by the resurrection of PEV is an evil attempt to resuscitate the tribe project destroyed by the hustler movements’ realisation that poverty and unemployment deliberately bred by poor leadership is our problem not our tribes,” said Ruto.
Stop the schemes
The leaders called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop the schemes they claimed were being hatched by State officers, even as they urged communities in the Rift Valley to resist the provocation and incitement by the “DCI and his evil networks”.
Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, who read the statement on behalf of the group, said the sudden promise of action by Kinoti – more than 12 years after the violence – was cavalier and hypocritical, given that there were so many other recent cases begging for his attention and action, yet he had not shown any zeal in their investigations.
“It is clear that Kinoti and his masters only wish to cynically exploit the terrible traumas of the post-election violence to anchor a diabolical and divisive political agenda, distract public attention from his paymasters’ political frustrations and incite communities into violent conflict,” she said.
Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa told the DCI boss he would be held responsible if violence erupts in the area where the communities were living harmoniously.
The legislators claimed Kinoti’s theatrics of conducting his business in public was an indication that he was always being used by other political players.
“Where on earth have you seen an investigator holding press conferences to tell the public details of the case they are investigating? We are only seeing this in Kinoti. But at the end of the day there are no results to his actions, all his major cases are stalling in courts,” claimed Kipkelion East MP Joseph Limo.
On Monday, Kinoti said the new investigations, coming 12 years after the country recorded one of its darkest moments, was sparked by threats that the victims had been receiving lately.
He disclosed that his office received a complaint on September 15 that some individuals had started profiling certain communities, causing fear among the purported victims.
“We went there for three weeks to investigate. The locals confided in us that they were receiving threats,” Kinoti said while addressing the victims who were recording statements yesterday.
“The government has given us firm instructions that what happened in the past should not happen again.”
The DCI boss said his officers were gathering evidence that would see the cases prosecuted in local courts.
“We will take action. Those who were afflicted, we ask them to come and record statements,” he said.
When asked why the cases were being revived, Kinoti said “criminal cases are never closed” and “perpetrators who committed heinous extremism will face the law.”
He noted that the files were still active and suspects would soon be arrested and arraigned in Kenyan courts.
Kinoti said victims who recorded statements had their names withheld for security reasons. However, a number of the victims agreed to be interviewed by journalists on camera yesterday.
Kinoti asked the public not to be misled by people he claimed were taking his statements out of context.
- Additional reporting by Moses Njagi