Team retreats to pick police service boss

December 6, 2011 1:03 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6 – A panel set up to select the chairman of the National Police Service Commission has now embarked on reviewing the candidates it interviewed last week.
The panel interviewed 10 candidates drawn from both private and public sectors who had been short listed based on their qualification, gender and experience.
But even as the selection panel embarks on the hard task of nominating the most suited candidate to head the commission that will be in charge of the regular and Administration Police in the country, anxiety is building amongst the interviewed candidates.
During the interviews held between December 1and 2, pertinent issues emerged including ethnicity—particularly dominated in the high echelons of police rankings currently.
At one point during the interviews, lawyer Jean Kamau was asked her thoughts on the fact that the law enforcement agencies is dominated by members of one community at the top and if her nomination would most likely worsen the situation.
The lawyer who is also a senior manager with ActionAid International told the team not to see her as a Kikuyu and instead look at her as a Kenyan qualified for the position.
“It is also important to observe that there are very few women in leadership positions in the security sector. Tribal representation should not be a factor in this case,” she said in response to a question posed by panelist Ahmednasir Abdulahi of the Judicial Service Commission who had sought her views on tribal representation.
“The security sector is currently dominated by persons from one community, wouldn’t giving you this job cause the tilt in the regional balance unfavourably?” he posed.
Ms Kamau however, held that “while the Constitution calls for regional balance it also calls for non-discrimination and affirmative action to support gender balance.”
Ms Kamau prides herself as the best suited candidate for the powerful post because of her past experience and involvement in reform programmes in the police force.
Another female candidate interviewed last week was lawyer Margaret Cheboiwo who also told the commission she is best suited to chair the newly established commission which she pledged to ensure changes in policing matters in Kenya.
“If nominated and eventually appointed chairman of the police commission, the first thing I will do is to get rid of 70 percent of officers in the rank of Inspector and above because they are to blame for lack of reforms in the police force,” she said.
“We need a new crop of leadership at the top positions in the police so as to get rid of those who still think the old way. Things have changed, Kenya has changed and the leadership should also change,” she told the commission.
Ms Cheboiwo told the commission she will also struggle to ensure the police get sufficient budgetary allocation because the current allocation is not enough.
“I will also strive to increase the police ratio to the recommended ratios by the UN standards; currently the number of police officers in Kenya is not enough,” she said.
Other candidates interviewed include lawyer Bernard Mbai who is the chief legal officer at the Public Service Commission, Byram Ongaya, Dr Migudo Winja, Ms Amina Masoud and Dr Eric Bor.
Others are Dr Hulda Ogot, Murshid Mohamed and Johnston Kavuludi.
During the interviews, one of the applicants was taken to task to defend his age.
“You want to tell this panel that we should entrust a constitutional commission that will be in charge of members of the disciplined force with a 35-year-old man who has worked four years as an associate with Mwenesi and Company advocates and as a lawyer with the Public Service commission and to whom only two lawyers report to, are you really serious?” Ahmednasir posed in challenging Mr Ongaya’s Curriculum vitae.
In response, Ongaya pleaded with the panel to assess his CV and make a decision based on his experience which he described as “vast”.
“Indeed I have urged this panel to carefully assess my CV and I have shown that my span of control and function relates to the public service commission; it has not been a hierarchical service but a service with government persons and departments and that is my CV demonstrates.”
The panel comprises of Hassan Omar Hassan of the National Commission on Human Rights, Ahmednassir (JSC), Internal Security Permanent Secretary Francis Kimemia, Caroli Omondi of the Prime Minister’s office, Festus Lituku and Lydia Gachoe.
The team is mandated to recruit the commission’s chairman and five members.
Once established, the commission will be responsible for appointing the Inspector General, two deputies and the director of CID.
One of the deputies will be in charge of the regular police while the other will oversee the Administration Police.
Insiders say Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere is interested in seeking the IPG’s post while AP Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua will be seeking to be the deputy Inspector General in charge of the force he currently heads.
The National Police Service Act requires that one of the deputies of the Inspector General be a woman.
After last week’s interviews, it emerged that Ms Kamau or Dr Winja are frontrunners to the position of chairman of the national police service commission based on their qualifications and the way they answered questions at the commission.
Once established, the commission shall also hire the new director of the Criminal Investigations Department and will have express powers to undertake police promotions and transfers as outlined in the National Police Service Act as well as develop a police training curriculum.
Currently, the Police Commissioner wields immense powers of transferring police officers of all ranks under him among other responsibilities.
The Panel chairman Mr Hassan last week said they expect to announce the names of chairman and members early next year, most probably in January or February.


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