Officer down! Officer down! Officer down! These were the thoughts which rung in my mind when the dust finally settled on illustrious senior police officers Peter Eregai (36 years in the force), Jonathan Koskei and Francis Okonya all who were in the rank of Senior Deputy Commissioner of Police. All the three were found ‘unsuitable’ to continue serving in the force.
For Peter Eregai, this final shocker brings a turbulent career that spanned three decades, with all its attendant challenges and excesses, to an end. A man re-established by former head of the civil service Francis Kimemia, Eregai had seen the worst of former police commissioner Mohammed Ali who made him work from his car (for lack of office space) for five months.
When he was redeployed from the the Focal Point on Small Arms to Vigilance House, Ali claimed he had not been consulted and sent the officer to a forced one month leave. After his return, he could not get an office to work from. He spent five years working (doing nothing) from his car!
“I would remain in the car reading newspapers for more than five months until September 2009 when I was called and appointed the deputy director of Criminal Investigations,” said Mr Eregai.
But Eregai story gives an interesting power play and bad blood between Ali and Kimemia which would make the officer be tossed around in officers with no fixed aboard. Initially, as Ali took over from Edwin Nyaseda (the last Moi top cop) he moved Ali to President’s small Arms section. His direct boss would be Francis Kimemia, then Internal Security PS. Five years into the job, Kimemia tossed Eregei back to Ali.
Ali, claiming he hadn’t been consulted, refused to have the officer on board.Â “He appeared not to be interested on getting me on board and told me to take my leave which I did and came back but he told me to hang on around because he had not sorted out my issues,” said Eregai.
Demoralised, Eregai sought early retirement in 2011 but Kimemia and then Internal Security minister prevailed upon him to stay in the force. He would remain ‘jobless’ but working until IG Kimaiyo redeployed him Â last year, in August, to his office to take charge of Administration.
Both Eregei and Â Koskei were seen as close associates of Â IG David Kimaiyo who has had tough territorial battles with the Police Service Commission Chair Johnstone Kavulundi and his team.
There are already accusations that the three, despite being Israeli trained and with long meticulous careers having risen through the ranks, may have been casualties of this power struggle. Jonathan also worked at Police Headquarters and was in charge of ‘Police Reforms’.
“The fact is two of those fired are perceived to be IG advisors, then the other is a senior officer one of the deputy IGs used to report to him and was not comfortable with him being there. We know these things. Ochieng used to earn salary twice was he fired? Saiya is known to be using GSU lorries to carry sand for constructing his flats was he fired?” wrote a keen follower of the events surrounding the police vetting.Â Francis Omondi Okonya, a Senior Deputy Commissioner I, also ejected from the force, was in charge of the Banking Fraud Unit and also a Deputy CID Director.
General Service Unit (GSU) Commandant William Saiya, Kiganjo Police Training College Commandant Peter Kavila, the Director of the Small Arms Secretariat John Patrick Ochieng and Abdi Shurie of the Administration Police Training College escaped the mastication.
The vetting panel of the police reform is itself a mockery of the exercise. Members of the vetting team include NPSC Commissioners Kavuludi, Ronald Musengi, Mary Owour, Mohamed Murshid, David Kimaiyo, Samuel Arachi, Grace Kaindi, Francis Muhoro, Nyumba Kumi initiative committee members Joseph Kaguthi (Chairman) and two members of his committee security expert Simiyu Werunga and former Criminal Investigations Director (CID) Director Francis Sang and former police officer Mike Harris and don Kimani Njogu.
To date, how police officers like Grace Kaindi, who literally run down Kisumu city, in a shoot-to-kill spree during the 2007 post-election violence survived the first vetting, is a mystery.