A governor, a senator and three MPs from Mount Kenya region have had their security detail withdrawn under unclear circumstances.
Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika and MPs Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati) and Alice Wahome (Kandara) had security officers assigned to them recalled in what they termed ‘political persecution’.
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While the leaders claim the move is political, the police say the withdrawal of security officers is just in order.
The five leaders are allied to Deputy President William Ruto.
Yesterday, Mr Ichung’wa confirmed that his security had been withdrawn but explained that he had not been given the reasons. “I ask them what they want to do with my family while I am away. We are being told it is orders from above in the PS’s office,” he said.
The Kikuyu MP, who is out of the country on official duty pointed an accusing finger at Interior Principal Security Karanja Kibicho.
“Yes, it is true. They have been withdrawn in what I see as a political move to intimidate and coerce me following threats even to my life to stop working with Ruto,” Ichung’wa claimed. “I am out of the country currently and God knows what they intend to do to my family while I am away or to myself on return.”
He shared a copy of a letter of acknowledgement by Peter Thuku on behalf of the immediate former Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet dated July 30, 2018 in which he had reported threats to his life.
“We confirm that action is being taken and we shall keep you posted on the progress,” reads the response by Mr Thuku.
Separately, Mr Waititu also confirmed that his security detail was withdrawn and no explanation had been given. “My security has been withdrawn. It’s true,” he said.
The governor explained that two of his bodyguards who were in Mombasa County on assignment were recalled by their immediate supervisors and told to report at the headquarters by 9pm on Friday.
Two police officers assigned to Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika, who is also the Senate Majority whip were also recalled. “They said orders must be obeyed and did not get the reason for their recall to the headsquarters with immediate effect,” Ms Kihika said.
Bahati MP Ngunjiri also lost his only bodyguard. “I have only one bodyguard. He was recalled yesterday and up to now, I don’t know the reason for his withdrawal,” he said.
Swapped the officers
Police spokesman Charles Owino explained that the withdrawal is in line with the police transformative agenda launched last September. “There was a resolution that protection services fall under Administration Police, in the past, security officers could be drawn from Administration Police, regular or General Service Unit (GSU), now the officers are supposed to be from AP in line with the transformative agenda,” Owino said.
It was not however clear if the leaders would get new police officers. A senior police officer who sought anonymity said that ordinarily, the leaders would have been asked to choose the AP officers they were comfortable with if it was in line with the transformative agenda. “They would have swapped the officers with others from the AP,” said the police officer.
National Assembly clerk Michael Sialai told Sunday Standard that no member has reported the matter to him.
On Ichung’wa he said: “I am not aware. He has been out of the country on official duty.”
Ordinarily, an MP is entitled to one bodyguard who accompanies him or her all the time but there are cases where some MPs have police officers guarding their homes even when they are away.
Security sources disclosed that despite a policy requiring the MPs to only have one security officer, others had up to five. National Assembly Security and Administration committee chairman Paul Koinange (Kiambaa) said it was in order to redeploy officers who have been assigned to politicians over and above the allowed number.
“MPs should give genuine security reasons why they should have extra police officers. Some have between four and five. These officers attached to VIPs should be withdrawn and redeployed to protect Kenyans,” Koinange said.
“If our officers are mainly on VIP security detail we will never get enough to serve wananchi. I told IG Mutyambai during his vetting for the post in the House that his first assignment should be on VIP security,” he disclosed.
The Sunday Standard has learned that a meeting held at Vigilance House resolved to withdraw the officers who will be redeployed later.