Inspector-General of Police (IGP) David Kimaiyo is on the spot over rising insecurity across the country that has forced President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto to intervene in a bid to arrest the situation.
Several weeks of successive attacks on civilians in Busia, Bungoma, Kakamega, Mandera, Garissa and Mombasa counties have put Mr Kimaiyo’s five-month tenure in office under scrutiny with no less than President Kenyatta and Mr Ruto convening three high-profile security meetings in a fortnight to demand answers from the security chiefs.
On Thursday, Mr Kenyatta summoned Mr Kimaiyo and police top brass to State House Nairobi to discuss runaway insecurity.
The following day he convened another meeting—this time with all county commissioners— to seek independent opinion on the wave of insecurity.
A week earlier, Mr Ruto was captured on TV cameras grilling security chiefs in Bungoma over the attacks that have claimed dozens of lives.
A visibly agitated Ruto put the security officers on their defence, demanding to know what actions they had taken to stop the killings, blaming them on laxity and complicity on the part of police in the area.
The meeting resolved that officers who had served a long time in the area be transferred immediately and disciplinary action, including sacking and prosecutions, be taken against those found to have been involved in the attacks.
Mr Kimaiyo appeared to absolve himself and his juniors from blame for the insecurity at the Thursday meeting with Mr Kenyatta, claiming that the absence of a substantive Cabinet secretary in charge of Security was slowing down efforts to deal with the violence.
Hands were tied
He further stated that his hands were tied because he could no longer transfer or sack errant officers as those powers rest with the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) chaired by career civil servant Johnstone Kavuludi.
But Mr Kavuludi denied the claims that his commission was interfering with Mr Kimaiyo’s docket, saying the IGP was a member of the NPSC responsible for any decisions regarding recruitment, transfer or dismissal of officers.
“As a commissioner in the NPSC, the IGP is the one who brings issues which call for transfers and discipline to the commission with recommendations on what action to be taken. These issues are discussed at the NPSC with advice from the IGP. Whatever action to be taken is executed by the IGP,” Mr Kavuludi explained.
“In cases of emergency, the IGP discusses the matter with the chairman without necessarily waiting for the whole commission to sit, and action will be taken immediately. NPSC has never lifted its hand to transfer any police officer. NPSC has always acted with speed to act on any officer the IGP has wanted transferred.”
He also dismissed reports that top police officers would lose their jobs in the ongoing reforms due to low academic qualifications.
“Besides academic qualifications, we will consider experience in management and most of the senior officers have undergone senior management courses during their service to the force,” he said.
Mr Kimaiyo did not respond to Sunday Nation’s requests for an interview to respond to these assertions.
Bungoma Governor Kenneth Lusaka blamed the insecurity in the area on the lack of proper coordination between the various security agencies as well as political interference.
“The (insecurity) problem in Bungoma is to an extent political, but it largely has to do with lack of coordination between the various security organs charged with detecting and preventing such attacks,” he said.
“In most cases, the security agencies have been caught off guard. There is a disconnect between the various organs like the intelligence, the Provincial administration command and the Regular Police in terms of sharing information on security. It is also possible that some organs could be receiving intelligence, but they decide to sit on it. There needs to be synergy and unity among the security organs.”
Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar put the blame squarely on Mr Kimaiyo’s shoulders, saying he had failed to transform the police force to deal with insecurity.
Business as usual
“The problem is simply lack of leadership within the police force. We expected that Kimaiyo would come up with a very pro-active programme in terms of police reforms with a new police management system incorporating sound intelligence gathering systems, public participation and swift response to threats to security, but we have not seen this happening,” he said.
“We have only seen the change of name from Police Commissioner to IGP. Kimaiyo has simply adopted a business-as-usual style of managing the Force,” he said.
Mumias Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Bishop Beneah Salala also blamed police laxity and complicity for the insecurity wave in the former Western Province.
“Insecurity is a big problem in Western; in fact there was a whole month last year when I could not sleep in my house due to fear of attacks from criminals who were targeting ACK leaders in Mumias. The irony is that these thugs are well known to the police, yet they operate freely. The problem lies with the local politicians, the DCIO and some wayward village elders. People volunteer information to the DCIO, but instead of him investigating the elements, he tips them off so they go targeting the locals,” said the cleric.
“Some of the gangs are sponsored by some powerful local politicians who rush to their rescue whenever they are arrested. They also collude with some village elders. That is where the problem is,” he added.
Nyanza Provincial Commissioner Francis Mutie also blamed police laxity for the insecurity in the province.
He said the Kenya Police were concentrating on internal squabbles over power-sharing with the Administration Police instead of securing the region.
“When it comes to providing security, no region belongs to anyone. Any police officer charged with the duty of providing security should be on call,” he said. Mr Mutie was addressing the media at the provincial headquarters after a group of residents stormed his office to demand answers to the lapse in security in Kisumu County.