NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 14 – Parliament on Wednesday began vetting the eight nominees to the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) Board.
Njeru Macharia, who has been nominated for the chairperson’s position, kicked off the process refuting claims that he applied for the position as a soft landing after losing out in the Kipipiri Parliamentary Seat in 2007 where he was trounced by Transport Minister Amos Kimunya.
Parliament’s Departmental Committee on National Security and Administration member Joseph Kiuna had raised the query.
Macharia who served in both the Justice (Rtd) Ransley Taskforce and Police Reforms Implementation Committee (PRIC) says if appointed, he will ensure Kenyans and the police force work jointly to implement envisaged reforms.
He served as the team leader in the PRIC sub-committee that dealt with the formulation of the police reform Bills.
“The danger is that if we don’t get it right with the IPOA, we can kiss reforms in the police service goodbye. In fact, the moment the public loses confidence in IPOA; the moment it’s not able to exercise its mandate correctly then reforms will not happen with the police,” he said.
MPs were also concerned that Macharia might not have time to focus on the crucial post which will among others entail establishing an IPOA secretariat as well as steer its programmes, given that he serves in the board of several firms including being the managing partner of his own law firm.
Macharia had told the committee that he is the chairman of the board of Fina Bank Rwanda and also sits in the Board of Fina Bank Uganda. However, he said he would relinquish some of the posts if his appointment is confirmed.
“And being a new institution, it has to be set on the right foundation, it must hit the ground running.”
President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga settled on Macharia to be the chairman of IPOA, after he scored 88.8 percent, against Dorcas Oduor’s 80.33 and Kinuthia Wamwangi who had 66.17 percent score.
They also nominated Tom Kagwe of Kenya Human Rights Commission, Fatuma Ali Saman, Jane Njeri Njoki Onyango, Grace Madoka, Vincent Kiptoo and Rose Awuor as members of the board.
Other nominees Fatuma Ali Saman and Jedida Pilale said they hope to transform the relationship between the police service and women.
Saman said: “Women from all walks of life should take advantage of this period, to see how they can further benefit, by ensuring that the police understand how it can serve the women without violating or infringing their rights.”
Pilale who had served in the defunct Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC) cited a case where a woman told the commission that she would never ask for directions from a police officer.
“As we start this organisation, I would like to see that the police are trusted; they will come to accept that we love them because they are our brothers and sisters, and that they are acceptable to the public,” Pilale told the committee.
Kagwe told the committee that he will focus on overseeing reforms to ensure the police are accountable to the public.
“It’s a very onerous duty to try and transform what you call the most corrupt institution, it’s also an onerous duty to try and transform an institution which carries guns. It is very difficult to try and reform an institution that has been strangle-held by the political class of the country,” he said.
President Kibaki in consultation with Odinga submitted the names of the eight nominees to Parliament late last month.
Parliament has until Tuesday next week to approve or reject the nominees.