NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 4 – Charles Owino, the man who spoke for the National Police Service (NPS) with a sense of pride and confidence is surely one to be missed by many.
The long-serving Spokesman of the police was kicked out of the seat unceremoniously in May, after a forced leave in what insiders linked to his political ambitions. He is keen on vying for the Siaya gubernatorial seat in next year’s elections.
After a 3-decade career, Owino has announced that he is leaving the police service, to join politics.
He is seeking to unseat Cornel Rasanga for the Gubernatorial seat in Siaya County, the home turf of former Prime Minister and Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga.
“I will ensure that sustainable projects like water projects are initiated for the benefit of our people,” he told a vernacular radio station in Nyanza early this year, “within 10 years I will transform Siaya to be the best county because I have the brains to do so.”
This is perhaps, why he was kicked out of Police Headquarters. It is understood that he plans to file for early retirement at the end of 2021 in time for campaigns for his political debut.
“The powers that be at police headquarters must have felt uncomfortable with him and it must be due to his political ambitions,” one senior police officer told Capital FM News but was uncomfortable discussing the matter on record for fear of reprisals.
Others linked his exit to an internal power struggle or a fall-out with the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai.
“Well they did not have a very good working relationship as it were,” another senior officer said, “he could not have survived for long.”
Owino was unavailable to comment for this article.
In 2015, Owino was in charge of security at the Kisumu County Government, after being moved from Ndhiwa in 2014.
From mid-2013, he had served as the Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) Njoro, in Nakuru County.
He was later moved to the police headquarters as the deputy director of communication for the National Police Service when he served under George Kinoti, the current Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) who assumed the position [of Spokesman] in 2013 up to 2018.
Owino is a holder of a master’s degree in International Relations, from the University of Nairobi.
But Owino’s re-deployment to the Small Arms department where he was named a Deputy Director and lack of an immediate appointment to his position at Jogoo House, the NPS headquarters is what has left more questions than answers.
There was no public statement from Police Headquarters announcing the changes, and none has been forthcoming to date.
With no substantive Police Spokesman replacing him a month later has left the police image on the line because the media has no one to run to for a comment or statement whenever in need.
Owino did not have a deputy who could have automatically taken over from him.
So who will replace Owino?
“We don’t know, we have not been told so we can only wait,” another senior police officer said, “but we will need someone who will be so confident and who can really defend the police”.
Owino is remembered for hard-hitting statements on live television when he took on presenters often shooting from the hip.
“Some of these police officers are very young, they can easily get drunk with the little power they have and do very wrong things,” he said in a live interview on NTV, in June 3, 2020 in response to a question on alleged extrajudicial police killings, including that of a homeless man in Mathare.
During that time, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) had claimed that 15 people were killed and 31 injured during operations to enforce the Ministry of Health measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yassin Moyo, 13, who was shot dead while playing at his parent’s rental home in Nairobi’s Kiamaiko slum, was among the victims.
According to the Amnesty International-Kenya, 7 people were killed during the first five days of a dusk to dawn curfew that was imposed by President Uhuru Kenyatta last year.
The president later apologized to Kenyans for the excesses of police during the period.