The National Police Service Commission Tuesday warned the public to be on the lookout for a criminal who is armed and dangerous — but what should worry the public more is that he is a police officer gone rogue.
The announcement is a pointer to something terribly wrong with an institution whose motto is service with dignity. Some 48 police officers have been arrested and charged in court for various crimes over the past five weeks.
Like the ceremonial formation march they exhibit during national holidays, their plans are methodical, coherent and well-planned. When they pounce, no one is safe.
Their insignia confer on them an unmatched advantage — authority. They have guns assigned to them by the government, uniforms and, most importantly, a culture of silence that assures them of cover-ups by their colleagues.
The chilling confession of an informer of how Administration Police officers attached to the Syokimau AP Post kidnapped, detained tortured and then murdered lawyer Willie Kimani, Mr Josphat Mwenda — a client he was representing in a case of police shooting — and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri is the clearest pointer to the underworld activities of rogue police officers.
The 2016 murders of the trio sent shock waves across the country and served to pull back the veil that shields the rot in Kenya’s National Police Service from the public eye.
In a confession by police informer Peter Ngugi, which was read by Chief Inspector Geoffrey Kinyua, the court heard chilling details of how the three were abducted, detained at the AP post and then killed when night fell. Their bodies were then dumped in the Ol Donyo Sabuk River.
The confession came a day after three police officers were arrested for raiding a lodging and robbing two businessmen of Sh6 million. Another officer believed to be in possession of Sh2.5 million is on the run.
On September 26, a Kenya Defence Force (KDF) officer and three Administration Police constables were arrested in connection with a Sh72 million StanChart ATM heist in Nairobi West.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) arrested APs Simon Gichuhi Karuku and his wife Caroline Njeri Waithira in Thogoto, Kiambu County.
On interrogation, the two led detectives to Mr Karuku’s sister, Eunice Wangari Karuku, a KDF officer based at the Kahawa Barracks, to whom they had handed the money.
Ms Wangari directed the detectives to pick up the money from her sister, Florence Wanjiru Karuku, who is also an AP officer. Ms Wanjiru was guarding a nearby Equity Bank ATM. Detectives also impounded a Toyota Mark X, registration number KBX 779R, from Ms Wangari that they believe was bought using proceeds from the heist. Four other police officers had initially been arrested in connection with the heist.
Four days earlier, a police officer based in Nairobi was arrested after Flying Squad detectives linked him to the theft of Sh800,000. The DCI said in a statement that Kelvin Ndosi was one of the officers who had demanded a bribe from Bathily Abdoulaye, a Mali national.
“On 15/09/2018 four police officers from Nairobi Area command came to his Kilimani residence and arrested him … the officers ransacked his house and took … US$8,000, Sh83,000, 3 Rolex watches each valued at US$15,000, his passport and also transferred Sh30,000 from his mobile phone,” DCI tweeted.
Before this, four other officers were implicated in the shooting of two-year-old Dan Githinji in the Soweto slum in Kahawa West, Nairobi. On October 2, three officers were arrested while transporting bhang and other contraband in a police vehicle at Kanyonyoo, on the Thika-Garissa highway. The Nation has counted a total of 610 cases of police officers being involved in crimes since January. However, owing to lack of records at Vigilance House, police headquarters, the number of incidents may be higher.
Police sources say that at least 120 officers have been sacked since the beginning of the year over gross misconduct. The Internal Affairs Unit and the DCI are tasked with investigating NPS officers, but even with the consequences, officers continue to go against the Service Standing Orders.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) said it had successfully prosecuted 67 cases. Of these, 60 were murder cases.
They include one at the Ruaraka Police Station, whose commander was sentenced to death after being found guilty of killing a suspect in custody. In another case, an officer was imprisoned for 15 years following a fatal shooting in Kasarani. Two officers were also sentenced to death for fatal shootings in Kabete while a senior detective was jailed for seven years for fatally shooting a 14-year-old girl in Kwale.
In an interview this week, Police IG Hillary Mutyambai said the cases were not a reflection of the entire police service, saying that “they were a few cases that were tainting the image of the service.”