NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Following a simmering discontent in the rank of file of the police force over the possibility of a civilian being appointed to the helm, Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia is now calling for calm.
The PS says comments made recently by senior police officers both at Vigilance House and at the CID headquarters are “totally unfounded.”
“You cannot oppose the Constitution,” Kimemia said in reference to remarks made by CID Director Ndegwa Muhoro and deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino.
Owino is on record threatening discontent and resistance in the force should the Police Service Commission recruit a civilian to the powerful post of Inspector General of Police while Muhoro has too voiced concerns on the subject saying “the police is not a private security company to be headed by a civilian.”
Kimemia describes fears of the two top cops as “premature and unfounded.”
“Look at the military, it has always been headed by a civilian and you have never heard them complaining,” he said in reference to the Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, who is a civilian president.
“The police management line up is very clear under the new Constitution; the Inspector General shall have two deputies [to manage the regular police and AP] so there is no problem at all even if a civilian is appointed Inspector General,” Kimemia told Capital News on the sidelines of the police service commission interviews which were suspended last week.
Two weeks ago, the CID chief Muhoro said “Police is not G4S, Group 4, Securex or Wells Fargo that needs a managing director to run it well. This is a professional institution that needs a professional to guide and we have qualified officers to be appointed to that position.”
Owino, the deputy police spokesman was the first to fire the shot about three weeks ago saying “Let them know that Vigilance cannot be a training ground for civilians who want to be police officers and get leadership posts and those seeking for the same should go to Kiganjo or Embakasi first. We have competent officers who can be an inspector general.”
Their remarks have since generated mixed reactions from both within the government and the private sector.
Security expert Capt [Rtd] Simiyu Werunga too feels the officers went overboard in making demands on where the Inspector General of Police should come from.
“They are not the ones who asked for the reforms in the police force, how then can they come out and start dictating where the Inspector General should be sourced from? They are totally misplaced on this one,” Werunga said adding “to us it does not matter where the Inspector General will come from, be it a civilian or a police officer as long as he is qualified and meets the set requirements.”
In one of his weekly opinion articles in the Sunday Nation, lawyer Ahmednassir Abdulahhi said it was possible the deputy Police commissioner’s remarks were blessed by his boss Mathew Iteere.
“It was a most strange announcement of mutiny that a spokesman of the Kenya police force ever made. He is so brave that he has the temerity to announce a mutiny of the entire police at a future date,” Abdullahi who is also a member of a panel recruiting the Police Service Commission said.
“Mr Owino must have had the explicit support of his boss, the Police Commissioner, who it seems has not only authorised but probably even blessed the statement this week in which the deputy spokesman states that the rank and file of the police force would not accept a civilian as head of the police force.”
The panel has carried out interviews for candidates interested to chair the commission that will select the new police chief but suspended interviews last week because terms of its chairman Hassan Omar Hassan and member Okong’o Omogeni had expired.
The two had been nominated to the panel by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) respectively.
Attorney General Githu Muigai has asked the two bodies to nominate individuals to replace Hassan and Omogeni to enable the panel finalise its work to avoid stalling the much needed police reforms.