15 January 2014

Kenya: Axed Top Cops Sue Over 'Unfair' Dismissal

Photo: Xinhua
Two senior deputy police commissioners go to court over 'unfair' dismissal (file photo).

Nairobi — Two former senior deputy commissioners of police have been allowed to challenge the decision by the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) to terminate their employment.

Peter Elaini Eregae and Jonathan Koskei are seeking orders to quash the commission's verdict on grounds that there was no complaint raised by any member of the public other than the panel, which they say had formulated allegations against them.

The embattled officers on Wednesday argued that the vetting process was conducted in violation of their constitutional rights since there was no quorum, saying that the commission instead invited strangers who sat in the panel contrary to the provisions of the law.

They told Justice George Odunga, through their lawyer Alloys Kwengu, that the commission acted in bad faith.

The court has since allowed them to file judicial review proceedings to prohibit the commission from terminating their employment.

The application will be heard on March 29 to determine whether the vetting panel's decision will hold.

It all started on January 3 when the Johnstone Kavuludi-led commission announced that it had retired three senior deputy commissioners in the first batch of the vetting process of seven senior police officers who were vetted on December 17 and 18, 2013.

Eregae, Francis Omondi Okonya and Koskei were found incompetent and unsuitable to continue serving as police officers.

Kavuludi had announced that John Ochieng Owino, William Atswenje Saiya, Peter Kilonzo Kavila and Omar Shurie Abdi were found to be competent and suitable to continue serving as police officers.

"The main objective of vetting is to reclaim public confidence in the Police Service to enable the officers who have been cleared during the vetting process with pride, confidence and renewed vigour," Kavuludi said.

Among key issues being looked into during the exercise was professional conduct and discipline, integrity and financial probity and respect for human rights.

After the vetting interviews the panel retreated to analyse the information gathered during the grilling and from investigators.

During the vetting process, Eregae was the first officer to be vetted and faced a hard time explaining how he acquired a parcel of land in Isiolo.

In response, Eregae said the land was allocated to him as family inheritance and stressed that he had no other sources of income except his salary.

"I was born in Isiolo, so that is the land I have known since I was born... the land that has been ours in the family for as long as I can remember," he stated.

"All I was getting as a police officer went to savings."

He also revealed the circumstances under which he was moved to the Ministry of Local Government at one point in his career.

"The circumstances that led to my movement to the Ministry of Local Government were that there was some re-shuffle within the police service and I was given a letter to report to the Ministry of Local Government. So I reported to the ministry within an hour of receiving that document," he stated.

Koskei was accused of sacking police officers without proper investigation to ascertain if they had committed any misdeeds.

In his defence, he told the vetting panel that he was only enforcing the law saying he does not entertain recklessness in service to the citizens.

"I do not allow any mistakes to happen under my watch. I acted in all cases with a reason," he said.

He also noted that police reforms were on course despite financial challenges.

"We have changed our curriculum in training of the police officers which aligns with the new Constitution on a better police service for all," he observed.

The second phase of vetting concluded on Saturday, where 23 Deputy Commissioners of police were vetted. The vetting panel is yet to release the outcome.

The vetting process is being conducted pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution Article 246 and National Police Service Act (2011) Section 7(2) and (3) which stipulate that members of the National Police Service shall undergo vetting to assess their suitability and competence.

The overall objective of the vetting is to build confidence and trust in the National Police Service.

The applicable vetting standards include officers' satisfaction of entry and training requirements, their professional conduct and discipline, integrity, financial probity, and respect for human rights.

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