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Inside the big mess at Kenya Prisons Service senior management

Monday July 13 2020
PRISON PIC

Prison warders at the Kenya Prisons head offices in Nairobi in April. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By NATION WRITER

A high-octane clash of interests, power and fight for control of the Kenya Prisons Service has made its second senior most officer, who had already been retired, make his way back to office.

In what is turning out to be a bad trend in the security agencies where the law is broken in order to give way to interests, Deputy Commissioner-General of Prisons (DCGP) Benjamin Njoga has been reinstated to his position.

At stake in the current quagmire at Kenya Prisons is the billions of shillings it receives from taxpayers to run the service. Kenya Prisons is allocated at least Sh27 billion annually by Treasury.

Mr Njoga has attained 60 years old and retired on June 30. Official communication about his retirement and a replacement for his position had even been made. Then last Friday, Mr Njoga was reinstated by the Public Service Commission (PSC) on what it termed as ‘Local Agreement Terms.’

RETIREMENT

“The Public Service Commission has appointed PF/1983055542 DCGP Benjamin O Njoga on local agreement terms for a period of one year with effect from August 1, 2020 upon the attainment of the mandatory retirement age of 60 years,” said communication from Commissioner General of Prisons (CGP) Wycliffe Ogallo to his officers on Friday night.

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It is worth noting that just four days earlier, CGP Ogallo had released another communication informing the Prisons Service of the retirement of his deputy.

Mr Ogallo, a long-serving senior officer in the provincial administration was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to head the Prisons department in February last year.

His appointment did not come without drama as his predecessor Isaiah Osugo also had his retirement extended on three occasions after reaching the age of 60 back in 2016.

Like Mr Ogallo, Mr Osugo was not a career prisons officer as he was brought in from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) by President Kenyatta. Mr Njoga though has been in the Prisons Service since 1983 and was assumed to be next in line to replace Mr Osugo since 2016, but President Kenyatta pulled the rag under his feet again by bringing in Mr Ogallo.

While the Commissioner General of Prisons is a direct appointee of the President, other senior officers automatically assume the next rank once it falls vacant sometimes with the recommendation of the Interior Ministry.

PRISON BOSSES

“Please be informed that the Deputy Commissioner General of Prisons PF/1983065542 Mr Benjamin Njoga is due to retire from the service with effect from July 1, 2020,” wrote Mr Ogallo to all prison bosses on July 6.

“You are therefore required to confirm from your end if he has any outstanding debt/loan, kit deficiency or any government liabilities. Information to reach this headquarters by close of business on July 10, 2020,” ordered Mr Ogallo. Such communication is normal when a senior officer is retiring.

Just a day after Mr Njoga’s official retirement date Ms Florence Omundi, the Director Gender and a Senior Deputy Commissioner of Prisons was appointed as Acting Deputy Commissioner General of Prisons.

“You have been appointed to the post of Acting Deputy Commissioner General of Prisons with effect from July 1,” said Ms Omundi’s appointment letter.

RETIREMENT

On the same day the Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a new grading system for 23 senior officers and promoted them. Among those promoted are Thangate Rahab, Kennedy Aluda, Ogore Duncan, Mambili Rose, Florence Omundi, Ombima Richard and Mutevesi Joseph who now became Senior Assistant Commissioner General of Prisons.

Previously, the only other holder of the position of Senior Assistant Commissioner General of Prisons was Wanini Kereri, the Commandant Kenya Prisons College. This means that she would have automatically assumed the position of Deputy Commissioner General of Prisons following Mr Njoga’s retirement.

Now Mr Njoga has been reinstated with Ms Omundi already in office which means that the service now has for the first time two Deputy Commissioner General of Prisons. Interestingly, Ms Omundi was at the time of her appointment to her new office holding the rank of Senior Deputy Commissioner of Prisons, which is a rank lower than Ms Kereri’s.

Similar manoeuvres were done at the Kenya Police Service in November last year which saw the Deputy Inspector General Edward Mbugua who was also set to retire added four more years. And that was not all. The officers who stood an equal chance of replacing Mr Mbugua courtesy of their ranks were all ejected from the force.

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