, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 20 — Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet has warned of tough action against leaders involved in planning political meetings that turn chaotic as the country gets into the electioneering mood.
He says the set legal requirements must be adhered to while such rallies are being held.
“We are very conscious of the calendar, and we know we are headed towards a general election as required by the constitution… and we are preparing ourselves accordingly so that the people of this country can exercise their democratic right in a peaceful, tranquil and safe atmosphere.” he asserted.
“We are determined to discharge that mandate in accordance with the law.”
Already incidents likely to breach security have been witnessed a case in hand being in Embu where two legislators had a public altercation, while their supporters almost clashed.
Runyenjes Member of Parliament, Cecily Mbarire and Embu Senator Lenny Kivuti clashed over who is fit to run for the Gubernatorial seat under the Jubilee party.
Over the weekend, politicians aligned to the Jubilee Party and Orange Democratic Movement held parallel rallies in Mathare Constituency, despite security concerns and at some point, a vehicle was burnt after running over a passer-by in the heat of the political activities.
“Anybody who organises a public meeting or procession ought to know what the law says. We know ourselves what we are required to do to cover public meetings and rallies,” he assured.
The Police boss was speaking to journalists on Tuesday at the Ruaraka GSU headquarters, where he addressed several officers from the Unit on the need to reform and conform to Constitutional requirements, while executing their duties.
The General Service Unit was one of the security agencies accused of flouting Constitutional regulations during the 2007 post-election violence.
He said there is need for police officers to embrace total reforms for them to be able to move with the current times.
“This will be achieved through first improving the relationship of officers internally, relationship with other security agencies and the citizens,” the IG said.
Such institutions include the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission among others.
IPOA has in the past accused the Police Service of sabotage in their Constitutional mandate to investigate deaths and serious injuries caused by police action, to investigate police misconduct, to monitor, review and audit investigations and actions by Internal Affairs Unit of the police, among others.
“We first want our own officers to understand the changed circumstances in which we are doing policing,” he explained while insisting that NPS must become people-centred.
Boinnet cautioned that any police officer who has not reformed to align themselves with the new Constitution, has no place in modern day Kenya.
“There are crooks amongst us just like in any other organisation,” he stated.
In recent times, the Police Service has been put on the spot over the increased cases of extra-judicial killings, some of which cops have been directly linked to, like in the torture and killing of Lawyer Willie Kimani, his driver Joseph Muiruri and client Josephat Mwenda.
Recent statistics by the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) indicates that this year alone, police are guilty of killing over 100 people in unclear circumstances.
But Boinnet expressed optimism saying that with the ongoing sensitisation programme, the police service will be able to either get rid of the rogue officers or reform them.
The programme also focuses on restoring public confidence through “understanding of each other. We want the public to understand what we do as we also understand what they expect from us.”
“We want them (officers) to know the absolute imperative of changing the way we do policing in the country,” he stated.
In previous incidences where the country had been attacked by terrorists, cracks within the police service have been blamed on the loopholes often noted.
Some of the issues raised during the session by senior police officers include how to engage with a public which “no longer respects the police service.”
Officers also sought to know how they are supposed to act during various incidences to avoid infringing on other people’s rights.
National Police Service Director of Reforms John Ochieng urged the officers to ensure they respect human rights while performing their duties, “since in a 90,000 police service, we cannot serve 40 million Kenyans without their support. We need them.”
“Would you be proud to be a member of a police service accused of killing innocent Kenyans, incompetence, disorganised…?” he queried, to a unison ‘no’ by the officers who hailed from the Recce Company among other units.
Responding to their concerns, Boinnet insisted that police have to follow the law while acting but noted such move needs to be guided by necessity, legality and accountability.
He however insisted that he will not shy away from defending any officer accused wrongly of infringing on people’s right.
With cases of insecurity becoming sophisticated, the Government has continued to invest heavily in the sector, a move the IG says has boosted the service capacity and morale.
In the 2016-2017 financial year, the government in a move to modernise the security sector in the country allocated Sh124 billion to Defence and the National Intelligence Service and Sh140 billion to the Interior Ministry.
Already the Police Command and Control Centre was already up and running and police training facilities expanded, to allow the recruitment of more officers, in a bid to reduce the police to citizen ration, towards the 1:400 UN accepted standard.
The government has already signed a bilateral agreement between the government and Shelter Afrique to construct 20,000 police housing units in the first phase within the next two years.
Construction of the houses is set to kick off in November this year.