DCI boss Kinoti jailed for 4 months, asked to take self to prison

DCI boss George Kinoti. [File, Standard]

Director of Criminals Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti has been sentenced to four months in prison for contempt of court after failing to surrender guns belonging to businessman Jimi Wanjigi.

The guns were seized from Wanjigi following a raid on his Muthaiga home in Nairobi in 2017.

The businessman moved to court seeking orders compelling the DCI boss to return his guns, orders that were granted by Justice Chacha Mwita on June 21, 2019, when he directed Kinoti to return a Smith and Wesson pistol, a Glock Pistol, a Mini Acher, and M4CQ assault rifles to Wanjigi.

And on Thursday, High Court judge Anthony Mrima said in his ruling that Kinoti has remained defiant even after being directed to return the firearms.

Consequently, Mrima ordered Kinoti to surrender himself to the officer in charge of Kamiti Maximum Security Prison within seven days to start serving his sentence. Should he fail to do so, the Inspector General of Police, Hillary Mutyambai, should carry out the orders of the court.

And in the event Mutyambai fails to arrest his junior, Mrima ruled, Kinoti should be arrested immediately the day he will leave or retire from DCI.

The judge noted that even when the court required Kinoti to explain why he found it difficult to comply with its orders and perhaps plead for leniency, he defiantly asserted that he was not going to obey the 2019 orders.

"The only reasonable conclusion in the unique circumstances of this matter is that Mr George Maingi Kinoti has decided to openly disregard court orders and does not even care to seek any orders of stay. That is very unfortunate and it is the height of impunity," said Justice Mrima.

A year after Justice Mwita issued the order, Wanjigi filed another application seeking to enforce it. The businessman asked the court to find Kinoti in contempt and hand him six months jail sentence.

In February this year, the court found Kinoti guilty of contempt and ordered him to comply with the 2019 order, by Justice Mwita, within 30 days.

In July, Kinoti asked the court to hear him in private as he had some information to share, a request to which Wanjigi objected.

The court said it would hear the contempt application in September but Kinoti did not show up. The DCI boss' lawyer told court there was no order requiring Kinoti to appear in person.

Kinoti, in an affidavit before the court, said Wanjigi is not allowed to hold any firearm claiming the businessman’s license had been revoked in 2018.

He said some of the firearms did not belong to the businessman and therefore could not be returned. Other firearms, Kinoti said, are not meant for civilians.

Kinoti further argued that he is not the custodian of firearms but the Chief Firearm Licensing Officer. Justice Mrima observed that Kinoti's response indicated he was not going to comply with the order.

"In other words, Mr George Maingi Kinoti stayed put and waited to see what the court will do to him in the face of his outright defiance. That explains why he reiterated his position that he was not going to comply with the orders of the court and the sentencing hearing," the judge said.

He added: "Instead, with the guidance of his lawyer, he took to his guns and remained defiant that he was not about to obey the orders of the court."

During the mitigation, Wanjigi chose to represent himself in the matter and told the court the raid by police on his home in 2017 had haunted his family for four years.

He said he was a genuine businessman and politician who operates within the spectrum of the law and that he will not allow his rights to be violated.

"The police raid at my residence had really haunted my family for four years and I wanted the DCI boss George Kinoti to present himself and explain why he took my licensed firearms on suspicions that I am involved in illegal business. I also wanted to ask Kinoti on his face why he was violating the law that he is supposed to protect as a security officer," said Wanjigi.

On Thursday, Justice Mrima said he was recently threatened and his house bungled following orders he issued against an unnamed senior state official.

"I was further informed that if I do not heed to the warning, I will be dealt with firmly and finally using many other processes at their disposal," the judge said adding he will not be cowed out of his efforts to defend the constitution.