On the morning of August 5, murder suspect Wilfred Makori Muturi casually walked out of Ongata Rongai Police Station and vanished into the jungle hours before he was set to appear before a magistrate at Ngong Law Courts.
Arrested for stabbing a woman to death, Mr Moturi’s escape signalled a common problem within the police force with emerging reports that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations was also investigating cases where undeserving criminals were set free under the presidential pardon scheme — after bribing police officers to write positive recommendations.
The reshuffling of 133 senior prisons officers on Sunday and the tone of the transfer letters was an indicator that all was not well in the force.
“No representations will be entertained from any quarter,” read the directive by the Commissioner General, Mr Wycliffe Ogalo.
While Mr Ogalo said the transfers are part of a routine exercise, recent events in the police force have revealed deteriorating standards.
“There is nothing abnormal about these transfers. The officers are being provided an opportunity to serve all over the country to gain comparative experience.
"This was a well-planned move to give officers different exposure. It has nothing to do with what had been said before,” he said.
But while addressing a team of top prison managers at a workshop held at Ruiru Prison Staff College last month, the new Commissioner General particularly pointed out cases of staff reporting to work drunk, absconding duty, breaching the service’s confidentiality and facilitating criminal activities in prisons, acts which he warned will not go unpunished.
He said he has regrettably noted that cases of officers canvassing for promotions and transfers and mishandling prisoners were on the rise at the service.
Amongst those affected by the transfers include George Dianga, who has been transferred from Kamiti Maximum Prison to Kisumu Maximum Prison; Mathews Kimanzi, he has been moved from Thika Main Prison to the Central Regional Coordinator’s office; Horace Chacha Kiseria, from Kisumu Medium to Nairobi West Prison; and Mary Muhoro, from Kericho Women to Nakuru Women Prison.
Others are Stephen Ithanzu Mutua, who has been moved from Garissa Medium to Mwingi Main Prison; Alphone Nkieya has been moved from Marsabit Prison to Nyeri Main Prison, while Benjamin Boit has been transferred to Siaya Prison from Kisii Main Prison.
The affected officers are expected to report to their new stations by August 16 in person.
The transfer comes barely a month after Mr Ogalo complained over officers’ increased laxity, indiscipline and routine management gaps at the service.
The escape of Mr Muturi has also embarrassed the officers.
Kajiado North Sub-County Police Commander Joseph Mwika said the suspect escaped without any struggle. He confirmed that no grills or doors were broken.
Officers who were guarding the station are being investigated over complicity.
It happened barely a few weeks after the escape of 17 criminals from a moving police vehicle that was transporting them to Industrial Area Prison last month.