1 February 2013

Kenya: Fake Cop Decision a 'Cover-Up' - Civil Society

Civil society groups yesterday condemned a decision by the committee investigating alleged police impostor Joshua Waiganjo that suspended Rift Valley Police chief John M'Mbijiwe and Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) commandant Rimi Ngugi be 'retired in public interest.'

The civil society groups said the decision fell far short of what Kenyans were expecting and would further erode any confidence that the public may have had about the reforms in the police.

"It is a cover-up by the commission. What has been recommended is not a deterrent but just exposes the incompetences of the investigators," said Ndung'u Wainaina, the executive director of the International Center for Policy and Conflict.

He said that during the ten years that Waiganjo had been operating as a policemen, the current Inspector general David Kimaiyo had served as the director of police operations and therefore it was unlikely that he was not aware of Waiganjo's existence.

"These people--M'Mbijiwe and Ngugi-- are just scapegoats," Wainaina said adding that the ICPC and other civil society and human rights organizations would meet and consider their options.

Added Wainaina: "The public trust in the police has been destroyed since three months since he came into office, the new IG has not set up a structure or even attempted to vet the police. There has not even been an audit so how many other Waihganjos are there?"

Safina presidential candidate Paul Muite said the committee's decision was a clear indication that the National Police Service Commission was not independent.

"Kenyans have eaters and eyes. They can tell what is happening and the problem is that the National Police Service Commission is not independent as it wants to portray itself. The way the committee handled this matter is a clear indication that powerful individuals are manipulating the commission. It is a commission of reinforcing the status quo not for reforms,"he said.

'Retirement in public interest' means the two men-- who are alleged to have played a role in Wanjohi's alleged infiltration of the police force-- might still receive their full retirement benefits.

There was however still the possibility that the two could be summarily dismissed as CID officers were expected to conclude investigations that might see the two policemen appear in court to answer to criminal charges related to abuse of office and complicity in crime.

The CID team is led by deputy director of CID Gideon Kimilu and Airport CID chief Joseph Ngisa. The committee 's report was presented to the National Police Service commission chairman Johnston Kavuludi.

Kavuludi said the commission had with immediate effect, reinstated Njoro police boss Nthigah Njeru who had been adversely mentioned as having issued Waiganjo with a letter appointing him as a reservist. In his testimony, Njeru said he had issued the letter under duress and on instruction of his boss, M'Mbijiwe.

Njeru had also narrated to the committee how he once complained to M'mbijiwe about being harassed by Waiganjo. Njeru said M'Mbijiwe rebuked him and warned him against interfering with "the commissioner's man."

Kavuludi said Njeru will be transferred from Rift Valley and directed that he undergo training on command and leadership. The report absolved retired police commissioner Mathew Iteere who was adversely mentioned as one of the top cops who dealt with Waiganjo.

Iteere had denied any knowledge of Waiganjo and said they had never interacted either on phone or anywhere else. Iteere had asked the committee to request the CID to retrieve Waiganjo's cellphones and trace the calls he claimed he made to 'CompIteere.'

"It is useful to reveal that this report actually finds the information given by former Commissioner credible and this exonerates him of complicity," the report says.

The committee said Waiganjo was not a police reservist as stated by M'Mbijiwe and was neither an administration policeman nor a regular police officer as claimed by Naivasha residents and his family. The commission also noted that Waiganjo did not sack or promote any police officer.

Following the revelation, the committee recommended that the police internal affairs department headed by former deputy police spokesman Owingo Wahongo immediately start dealing with the complaint.

It also recommended the establishment of a database of all police reservists, their training, deployment and payment as well as a centralized firearms movement register that will help in tracking all guns issued to the police.

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