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What would Kinoti do in an editorial planning meeting?

By Brian Otieno | April 25th 2021
Director Directorate of Criminal Investigations George M. Kinoti displaying firearms (inset, right) surrendered to the police by Citizen TV. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

George Kinoti doesn’t need a gun to shoot himself in the foot. His tongue does an impeccable job. Whenever he is rambling, the organ wags intermittently, sticking out like that of a heavy-tongued serpent.

His isn’t the straight-shooting flick made by the crawling reptile banished from Eden many centuries ago. But that’s as far as the differences between the two go.

Just like the biblical character, Kinoti’s tongue has landed him in trouble more times than he would wish.

Last week Tuesday was a day he would wish to forget. When he called the press, there was no doubt he would try to discredit an expose by Citizen TV on the involvement of police officers in illegal firearms dealings.

After denying that the firearms and handcuffs that the journalist involved procured belonged to the police, Kinoti would rant about how the media had decided to do their job without consulting him.

“We have worked together before in joint operations,” he would say, repeatedly, lamenting that he had been side-stepped in a way only he knew best. Nothing made him sadder than that.

Long-faced and frustrated, Kinoti further regretted that Purity Mwambia, the Citizen TV investigative journalist had risked her life to save that of many Kenyans by exposing the underworld police networks and urged other journalists to consult his office in future.

And from the look of things on social media, more Kenyans will be seeking to try out similar stories. One hinted that they would try to see how much a police vehicle would cost in the black market. Another was more ambitious, wondering if it would cost an arm and a leg to secure a police station. He promised to bring his police cells.

If the two were to be successful, the DCI boss will probably soon issue a briefing not to discredit the two items as not belonging to the police but to complain that he wasn’t involved in the investigations.

From the way he spoke on Tuesday, Kinoti seemed to have wanted a spot in the editorial planning meetings of media houses interested in undertaking investigative pieces, only that he never stated his preferred designation.

‘Consulting editor or editor-at-large’, what’s your pick Bwana Kinoti?

As expected, the public bashed the top detective for his rant and his office’s decision to summon those involved in producing the story.

“It is a lazy DCI who summons an investigative journalist instead of picking leads and embarking on full investigations,” Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua charged.

But this is not the first time Kinoti is on the spot over his tongue. In November last year, he got the famous presidential tongue-lashing over remarks he made suggesting that he would revisit the 2007 post-election violence.

“Some people say things without thinking,” said the president in November.

And he has been luckier than that, earning the deputy president’s (DP) bashing when he came out to explain how Sergeant Kipyegon Kenei, an officer attached to DP William Ruto was killed. He is among the few Kenyans who have earned the complete presidential-lashing package.

If you asked the DCI boss why his tongue always lands him in trouble, he would probably say it is because he speaks his mind. Growing up, Kinoti had wanted to be a priest.

He would have spent his life preaching to people and urging them to speak their mind. He would have lived out his days behind a confession booth, praying for sinners as they confessed their transgressions and not bring them to justice as he does currently.

Kinoti would have perhaps also said it hurts whenever he feels slighted and that he doesn’t know how to react whenever he is hurt. Kinoti knows a thing or two about being ignored.

Over the past year, his former partners against crime have seemingly deserted him. The two, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission boss Twalib Mbarak don’t seem interested in him any longer.

Before they fell out, the trio went after the big fish in the war on corruption, netting government officials deemed to be corrupt swiftly in overly publicised swoops every other Friday.

The media lionised them, christening their operations ‘Kamata Kamata Friday’. Governors, cabinet secretaries, lawmakers, parastatal heads. No one was too big.

TV headlines and newspaper front pages couldn’t get enough of their faces, each competing to craft the perfect words to define their bond.

But Haji and Mbarak would soon isolate him, and Kinoti never thought his friends in the media would do the same?

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