Police turning out to be biggest enemy to anti-corruption drive

Monday May 13 2019

Police officers arrest a civil rights activist Boniface Mwangi during a demonstration along Nairobi streets on December 1, 2015. PHOTO | GERALD ANDERSON | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Police officers arrest a civil rights activist Boniface Mwangi during a demonstration along Nairobi streets on December 1, 2015. He was arrested at his home on May 6, 2019 on accusations of organising a revolution against the government. FILE PHOTO | GERALD ANDERSON | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MACHARIA GAITHO
By MACHARIA GAITHO
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We stepped back in time about a week ago when social activist Boniface Mwangi was held by police investigating an alleged revolution. A week before that, another social justice campaigner who goes by the name Betty wa Shiro had been arrested as police unleashed tear gas at a gathering at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park.

CRACKDOWN

If the police see threats to law and order in the ‘Red Vest’ movement, it should not be Mr Mwangi and Ms Shiro they should be arresting but the real leader of the revolution.

President Uhuru Kenyatta seems to have gone into hiding since the police crackdown on revolutionaries, saboteurs, disgruntled elements and other malcontents and agents of confusion.

We expected that, when he resurfaces, or is tracked down, he would be apprehended by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and given the third degree to reveal what he knows about the “organisation of revolution likely to cause civil unrest and breach of peace”.

This is because the revolution that has caught the eye of DCI detectives is the emerging public activism against rampant corruption. The #BeyondZeroCorruption campaign can, thus, be seen as direct support for President Kenyatta’s anti-graft drive.

It will take nothing short of a revolution to excise the evil of corruption. There can be no other way when the scourge is embedded in the highest echelons of government, the Judiciary, Legislature, political leadership, security services and even the Church. If he is serious about tackling the scourge, he becomes the de facto leader of the revolution, despite the fact that it could sweep him away too.

The National Police Service, and specifically George Kinoti’s criminal investigations unit, is supposed to be a key player in the anti-graft revolution. But as if presenting shoddy cases for prosecution is not enough, the police are actively waging war against presumptive allies in the anti-corruption war!

GESTAPO TACTICS

Counter-revolutionary activity, as seen with the arrest, teargassing and clobbering of anti-graft campaigners, can only viewed as direct and deliberate sabotage of President Kenyatta’s campaign.

And this does not present an auspicious beginning for new Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai.

It should be worrying that, so soon into his reign at police headquarters, his officers are bringing back methods and profiling that we all thought were consigned to the dustbin with reform of the dreaded Special Branch or Directorate of Security Intelligence.

It was under the Special Branch, then a unit of the Police ‘Force’, that all who trod on the straight and narrow path dictated by the one party thought police were routinely rounded up and accused of sabotage, sedition, plotting revolution or being ‘anti-Nyayo’.

A few days in the torture cells at ‘Carpet House’ on University Way, Nyayo House, Nyati House or some thick forest, extracted ‘confessions’ to every imaginable crime, followed by swift secret trials and lengthy jail terms handed out by compliant judges.

Accusing Mr Mwangi of plotting revolution brings back nightmares of the terror inflicted on hundreds of innocent Kenyans by a state security apparatus gone amok.

IGP Mutyambai must thus move fast to reassure Kenyans that his past as a security intelligence operative is not responsible for the return of Gestapo tactics. He must dissociate himself and the entire police service from such dictatorial methods and move fast to isolate and neutralise any rogue elements within the DCI or any other unit that might want to bring back ossified policing strategies.

COLLUSION

If the ham-fisted methods employed against anti-corruption campaigners are anything to go by, there may well be a need for an enquiry into the DCI and other agencies supposed to be driving President Kenyatta’s war on graft.

We have to start accepting now that from the Mr Kinoti and the Director of Public Prosecution, Noordin Haji, we are seeing more bark than bite. Tough talk and propaganda pieces in the media have yielded little in terms of significant convictions.

It is becoming clear, despite all the headlines about billions lost and watertight cases, what is being presented in court in the majority of cases does not match the hype. Many of the cases might be thrown out for lack of evidence and we will be forced to endure those tired old political excuses, such as blaming the judges. Courts convict on evidence presented, not media propaganda.

We need to know if such failures reflect utter incompetence on the part of investigators and prosecutors, or collusion with forces high in the presidency intent on scuttling President Kenyatta’s anti-graft revolution.

If not stopped, the counter-revolutionaries will move for President Kenyatta — that is, if they can find him!

[email protected]; @MachariaGaitho

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