opinionBy David Kimaiyo
It is now 14 days since I was sworn in as the first Inspector General of the National Police Service combining the command of the Kenya Police and the Administration Police Service.
I have taken over the principal internal security and law enforcement apparatus of this country at a time there are serious cases of insecurity especially in Tana Delta, Baragoi, Mathare and Baringo.
In Tana River alone the country has lost several lives including nine police officers women and children. Several houses have also been criminally set on fire.
It is against this background that on my second day in office I travelled to Tana River County to make a firsthand appreciation of the situation on the ground. Following the visit I put in place a system to study the situation from a purely police perspective and give me feedback on the factors contributing to the situation on the ground and identify causes of action available to the National Police Service to bring this senselessness to a halt.
Due to the reality that causes of action available to the police alone might not effectively manage the situation, it is also my intention to explore specific causes of action open to other citizen agencies (the judiciary, the witness protection agency and the provincial administration) to substantively supplement police action. My assurance to Kenyans is that the Office of the Inspector General of Police is fully committed to ensure law and order is restored in Tana River County.
As this process is going on, I would wish to note that since October, the government has deployed numbers of police officers and logistics capable of restoring law and order. There is therefore in place a deterrent police presence in the entire area. Given the difficulty of identifying the criminals and assembling evidence against them in a situation the members of public habitually cover-up criminals from their own communities, there has also been a fair number of arrests and prosecutions in courts of law. To their credit, we have not received any substantiated cases of human rights abuse against the law enforcement officers deployed there.
It is also evident that whereas the two communities living there and their leaders profess a commitment to peace in the presence of government agencies and the media, facts indicate that there is a sustained scheme to achieve some goal through extreme criminal violence. In most of these attacks there has been no theft of property and where it has occurred, it is more of an afterthought than the actual motive. At least in one incident, 60 head of cattle which could have been easily stolen were instead killed.
There are substantive grounds to believe that the violence in this region is not as a result of scramble for land or other resources. On many occasions, it has been suggested that the motive is a desire to completely displace one of the communities for political reasons.
This could also explain why the violence has escalated as we approach the general elections and the terror needlessly visited on women and children.
Consequent upon this, I have instructed the Director of the Criminal Investigations Department to increase the number of intelligence officers and detectives on the ground with the sole purpose of assembling adequate evidence against the perpetrators of these serious crimes. We are also working with other government security agencies to ensure that timely actionable intelligence is gathered to prevent any further attacks.
We shall also be engaging the Director of Public Prosecutions to assess whether there are persons who should be actively investigated for committing crimes against humanity given the relatively large number of violent deaths and displacement.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to urge persons aspiring for any political office in the country to conduct their campaigns peacefully and with due respect to the rule of law.
As the Inspector General of Police in the Republic, I wish to reiterate that whereas we might not be able assemble adequate evidence to prosecute key personalities (partly due to the slow pace of police reforms) immediately, no case of criminal violence as a means to ascend to political office will be abandoned.
There are in existence sufficient legal systems including the witness protection scheme to ensure that enough evidence is assembled to achieve conviction in a court of law. It will not matter to us what office you will have ascended to.
In the fullness of time, any person responsible for the current criminal acts in Tana Delta and other parts of the country will face the law.
As I pass my condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives in these criminal acts, I would want to inform all the people of Tana River County that the police officers are at hand to protect your lives and those of your family.
The culture of communal secrecy in the presence of individuals planning murder is devastating and does not serve any positive interest for humanity anywhere. The officers are under instructions to treat you with humanity and due consideration at all times: give them information on time and it will be acted upon.
Kimaiyo is the Inspector General - Kenya National Police Service