Over and out, Roger! Who will replace IG Joseph Boinnet?

Inspector General of Police (IG) Joseph Boinnet[Photo: Edward Kiplimo]

A full in-tray awaits the next Inspector General (IG) of police as the term of Joseph Boinnet comes to an end.

Boinnet’s successor will walk into office to find grumbling and demoralised officers unhappy with the restructuring programme many feel is ill-conceived and disruptive.

Part of the restructuring launched last year by President Uhuru Kenyatta entails merging the Kenya Police with the Administration Police (AP), integration of officers into communities and change of police uniform.

Once the reorganisation is completed, the AP will lose its identity and autonomy, which it has enjoyed since pre-independence. Only a skeleton team will remain to continue serving at the Rapid Deployment Unit, Rural Border Patrol Unit and Security of Government Buildings Unit.

“The idea of these reforms was the worst ever to be implemented by our superiors who hurriedly misled the president to endorse it. We read mischief in this push to do away with the AP in favour of our corrupt colleagues at the Kenya Police. We hope that the next IG will stop the exercise and advise the president accordingly,” said a senior AP commander.

AP commanders are in a dilemma following a directive that they conduct an audit and prepare inventories of all camps within their jurisdictions. The camps are supposed to be converted into police stations. It has however emerged that most of the camps are communally or individually owned, and therefore do not belong to government.

 “Most of these facilities are on private land. We are at the mercy of members of the public who have been donating land to us to set up camps, lines and offices, yet we are being asked to compile lists of the same. How do you lay claim to something that you don’t legally own?” posed another AP commander.

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From the beginning of this month, officers were expected to move out of government leased houses, government houses, police camps and lines, and seek accommodation in rented houses in neighbourhoods of their choice where they are expected to pay rent from their house allowances.

Officers were however shocked when the house allowances reflected in their December payslips were less than what they had expected. As a result, most officers are yet to move out of the residences, claiming the allowances cannot afford them decent accommodation befitting members of the disciplined services.

The change of uniforms is another bone of contention, with officers protesting that the proposed new set of uniforms is not ‘user-friendly.’ 

The alarming high rate of officers killing themselves in the past few weeks points to a deeper problem related to their work. On January 5, 2019, Charles Ndolo, an AP officer based at Kipevu Police Post in Mombasa, shot himself dead a few hours after Patrick Wekesa, another AP officer attached to Kaptimbor AP camp in Baringo, stabbed himself.

This came a few weeks after Boinnet’s driver Anthony Lemayan Lenkisol also shot himself in Narok town on December 9, 2018.

Boinnet [Photo:David Njaaga]

George Musamali, a former police officer turn security analyst, links the frequent suicide cases to neglect of officers’ welfare. He says that despite officers being traumatised due to the nature of their work, there is no post-traumatic counselling to help them cope.

“In terms of welfare, officers have nobody to lean on when they have family, transfer or promotion issues. The situation has been made worse after their house allowances were slashed. Ultimately, suicide becomes the only recourse because they have nowhere to ventilate their problems without being victimised,” observes Musamali.

The former GSU officer proposes that a manager-oriented person should take over from Boinnet whose term expires in March. “We expect an IG who will be a manager and capable of addressing both administrative and operational aspects affecting officers. We need to see change and an end to these problems,” he adds.

Stress, poor working and living conditions, are challenges facing junior officers who hope the next IG will prioritise them. So, who can save the demoralised police officers?

Names that have been fronted to take over from Boinnet include former PC Warfa Osman, now at the Devolution ministry; King’ori Mwangi, commandant at National Police College (Kiganjo campus) and Samuel Arachi, former Deputy Inspector General (DIG) in charge of the Administration Police service.

Others include the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti and Corporate Communications director Charles Owino. Also on the list of possible successors are Edward Mbugua, the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) in charge of Kenya Police, and his Administration Police counterpart Noor Gabow. Both are Boinnet’s deputies.

Edward Mbugua(left) Deputy Inspector General in charge of Police,looking on is Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi(right) [Photo:Wilberforce Okwiri]

Uhuru will have the final say on who becomes the next IG. The law gives him powers to appoint the IG unilaterally. However, he will not escape lobbying and canvassing by various interest groups keen on having their person at the helm of the National Police Service, which comprise Kenya Police and Administration Police.

Uhuru might as well go for a surprise candidate the way his predecessor Mwai Kibaki did when he plucked Maj-Gen Mohammed Hussein Ali from the military and made the paratrooper Police Commissioner.

When filling the position, the president will be guided by factors like regional balance and succession politics. A source privy to the lobbying said while one faction of the Jubilee Party is fronting Warfa for the position, the other wing prefers King’ori.

The Nairobian learnt there is yet another camp that wants Kinoti to succeed Boinnet. The thinking is that with Kinoti out of DCI, the war against corruption will be crippled.

“They know the position of IG is irresistible for Kinoti, but the actual plot is to frustrate the war against corruption. With Kinoti out of DCI headquarters, graft lords will heave a sigh relief,” said another source.

Kinoti [Photo:Wilberforce Okwiri]

David Kimaiyo was the first IG to serve under the new Constitution that created NPS alongside oversight bodies in the name of National Police Service Commission (NPSC) and Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA). He was appointed in 2012 but resigned two years later in the wake of intensified terrorist attacks targeting civilians.

It is understood that Arachi might be considered after it was belatedly realised that his removal as DIG was unfair. “He did not deserve to go, he was just collateral damage in a bigger political game,” said a source.

Arachi, then DCI director Muhoro Ndegwa and Joel Kitili, the DIG in charge of Kenya Police Service, were casualties of a government realignment of January last year. They were replaced by Gabow, Kinoti and Mbugua respectively.

It is instructive to note that while Kinoti and Mbugua received the Head of State Commendation (HSC) recently, Gabow was not on the list. Gabow’s failure to make it to the HSC list raised eyebrows, with some interpreting the omission as a sign the powers that be have no faith in his leadership ability.

Both Kinoti and Mbugua received Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear (CBS). “I think if he was deemed to have performed he should have been on the same list with his two colleagues,” observed an officer.

Police officers say they will not mind a leader who will steer reforms in the right direction and admit that they miss Maj-Gen Ali. “At the moment, we are being taken for a ride. They promised house allowances only to renege on it and slash the same. Changing uniforms was a bad idea,” complained an officer.

Under Boinnet’s tenure, there has been relative calm. He was picked from National Intelligence Service (NIS) and sworn in on March 11, 2015. Critics accuse him of lacking grip of the police service.