, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 6 – A report released by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has indicted senior police officers for giving contradicting orders during the Mpeketoni attacks.
The report released on Monday says juniors who were out to rescue residents were poorly coordinated because there was no clear chain of command.
IPOA Chairman Macharia Njeru says more lives could have been saved and the attackers repulsed were it not for the confusion.
“Prompt response failed because of conflicting orders and lack of a centralised command structure at the county level that could coordinate all the National Police Service resources in the region,” the report reads.
Decision making is also said to have been distorted “by the over cautious approach of the commander who were not on the ground and which frightened their respective units into not responding promptly.”
It further revealed that despite actionable intelligence the National Intelligence Service provided to police, they did not act.
He says there were too many senior officers each giving contradicting orders which bungled the whole response system, leading to deaths of over 100 people.
“The presence of many senior commanders from the National headquarters and the Executive was symbolic of leading by example and taking charge from the front. Their presence was commendable and valuable and displayed their appreciation of the gravity of the situation…but IPOA team was informed that at one point, the operation was taken over by the senior commanders,” it reads.
“The operational commanders were left to watch.”
Notably, the report also indicates that there was an anti-terror police officer based at Witu who allegedly was coordinating the activities of arms smugglers “said to be Al Shabaab operatives.”
“The arms were brought from Liboi under the protection and escort of that police officer,” it revealed.
The report further says that more energy was wasted receiving senior officers instead of pursuing the attackers.
“The operation to pursue the attackers was delayed and even abandoned as all efforts were directed towards meeting the high level delegation from Nairobi,” Njeru lamented.
The report further blames poor working relations between senior police officers who were stationed in Lamu at the time.
“A blame game ensued where the senior commanders from Nairobi were blaming the commanders on the ground for failure to prevent the attack, while the commanders on the ground were passing blame to each other on the delayed response,” he stated.
Personal differences among police officers are also said to have hampered the operation and policing in the area.
He stated had police been swift, the attacks that ensued after the first one could have been stopped.
“There was absence of close supervision of the operation hence some unit commanders might not have taken their assigned posts,” he said.
Njeru also pointed out that the members of the Kenya Police Service at one point were, “disheartened to learn of the interdiction of a commander at the station who but could not get them due to the ongoing fire.”
The report recommends that the National Police Service should establish legal procedures, policy and due process in the course of disciplining officers.
“The pronouncement through the press, of the immediate sacking or interdiction of senior police officers in the heat of an operation or crisis is unprofessional and should be discouraged,” he stated.
As a result of the preventable mistakes displayed, IPOA issued a 90-day ultimatum for the Inspector General of police David Kimaiyo to institute measures to put in place seamless structures of the service at all levels.
IPOA also recommends that there is need to establish a full operational centre or command post to coordinate such operations.
They also want the Mpeketoni Police Station well equipped and staffed in a bid to enhance its response to various security concerns.
Also among the 19 recommendations, IPOA wants police who performed well recognised and promoted.