A senior police officer’s financial probity was put in doubt as the National Police Service Commission concluded officers' vetting in Mombasa on Monday.
Nandi Central OCPD Joakim Mecha found himself on the spot over the source of huge sums of money that had been deposited into his accounts.
Mr Mecha, a former Taita-Taveta OCPD, told the panel that he earned Sh26,000 as salary in 2011. However, huge amounts were found to have been deposited many times into his M-Pesa and bank accounts.
The commission members said in some instances, he deposited up to Sh440,000 in a day in his M-Pesa account.
“In my family, I was the one who was relied on to pay school fees for my siblings. I do get money from my wife and from consultation duties,” Mr Mecha explained.
He performed some of the M-Pesa transactions when he sent his mechanic to buy spare parts, he added.
However, Mr Ronald Musengi, a panellist, said the explanation was not enough as the police chief only explained the money that left his account.
“We can see that there is money generated from elsewhere coming into your accounts. What is the source of this money?” Mr Musengi asked.
In October 2013, the officer deposited more than Sh122,000 in his bank account in less than a week, according to the commissioners.
The panel further noted that on April 19, 2014, he deposited Sh159,000. On the same day, a deposit of Sh500,000 was made into the account.
He made a further deposit of Sh50,000 on January 12, 2012, and on the same day, Sh150,000 was deposited into the same account at the Kenya Commercial Bank, the panellists observed.
“I was trying to buy some land and I got money from my wife,” the police commander explained. “She tops me up whenever I need to do a project.”
He also got money from his engineering consultancy, while the Sh500,000 was a loan he had applied for, he said.
Mr Mecha, who is an engineering graduate, said he also performed the M-Pesa transactions when he was buying file cabinets, desks and seats for a new office in his division.
He also paid in instalments for a parcel of land he was buying through the mobile phone money transfer service, he explained.
The panel asked him for documents proving his ownership of the property, but he asked for time to visit Lands offices to obtain the records.
Kilindini Port Deputy OCPD Charity Muita also appeared before the panel, where she was told to explain why she authorised rallies by the Party of National Unity and the ODM to take place at the same venue in Changamwe, Mombasa.
She said it was a misunderstanding between her and her deputy. “A mistake was (made) in my absence, but two days before the meetings I realised (the error) and tried to contain the situation,” she explained.
“I made sure that PNU went to a different venue and I still got a letter to show why this happened.”
She was further accused of not being a team player, but she defended her role in the evacuation of victims of the 2008 post-election violence, when she was an inspector in Solai, Nakuru County.
“I had to mobilise the local administration and the police in accommodating the increasing number of PEV victims.”
Kisauni Deputy OCPD Walter Abondo also faced tough questions over drug abuse in Mombasa, which the panellists said police seemed unable to tackle.
“There are a number of cases that are already in court,” he explained. “The only challenge is getting the source of these drugs.”
He said most of the suspects arrested were users, but Mr Murshid Mohammed, a member of the commission, wondered why police could not establish the source of the drugs.
In response, Mr Abondo said the community was not willing to testify against suspects taken to court.
The panel was also told that poor hardship allowances and the posting of police officers to northeastern Kenya as a punishment were fuelling insecurity.
The Johnston Kavuludi-led vetting team had wanted to know why insecurity persisted despite the presence of police officers on the Kenya-Somalia border.
Mr Charles Kanyuria, from the National Counter-Terrorism Centre, said government officers in the region engage in corruption to make ends meet.
The vetting of senior police officers from the Coast region came to a close yesterday with the last 26 officers being interviewed.
NPSC Commissioner Murshid Mohammed said this was one way of ensuring the officers serve Kenyans better and increase trust in the officers by the members of the public.
Additional reporting by Laban Robert