2022 politics push police defender to Small Arms
Charles Owino, the man who has been tasked with damage control following perennial negative publicity of the police service over a decade, has finally been transferred.
Owino, 51, Assistant Inspector General (AIG) and the longest-serving Spokesperson, has been appointed the deputy head of the Kenya National Focal Point on Small Arms and Light Weapons (KNFP).
KNFP was established in 2003, with a focal point committee bringing together government and civil society.
In his public-facing role, Owino has been the voice of the service and in most cases has attempted to change the narrative by focusing on the service’s positive accomplishments, besides vehemently defending the police against accusations of corruption, brutality and extra-judicial killings.
His position earned him love and hate in equal measure. Owino, who easily successfully interacted with the media, is remembered for his public speaking, communication and networking skills.
He is set to deputise Charlton Murithi, a Senior AIG, and the former Traffic Commandant, who was also the Director, Internal Affairs Unit.
In a recent controversial statement, Owino defended the police service accused of using excessive force while implementing the Ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols. Owino said: “Let us obey the law and maintain social distancing. The reason we have curfew is to ensure we handle this situation appropriately.”
Transfer now removes him from the mainstream police service.
KNFP is made up of representatives from a wide range of Government ministries and departments, as well as civil society representatives, and international agencies, which is charged with the responsibility of coordinating all of Kenya’s actions on small arms.
During his tenure as the Spokesman, Owino had a stint at Kisumu County Government where he headed the security directorate. He had previously served in Ndhiwa in Homa Bay county and Njoro in Nakuru as OCPD.
He was the second Director of Communication of the National Police Service after he took over from the current DCI boss, George Kinoti, in 2018.
Past spokespersons for Kenya Police Service include Kingori Mwangi, Jasper Ombati (2004-2009), Erick Kiraithe (2009-2013), Owino (2013), Gatiri Mboroki (2014-2015) Owino- (2015-2021). His transfer comes two months after he hinted at resigning in December to pursue governor seat in Siaya in 2022.
His political ambitions, reports say, fuelled the transfer given that it is critical in protecting the image of NPS.
Reports indicate he was sent on leave last month after declaring the interest and that he resumed office on Monday.
Among those eyeing the seat include the Siaya Senator James Orengo, Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi, and Siaya Deputy governor James Okumbe among others.
Early February, Owino said that owing to his experience in the service, he was better placed to replace the outgoing Governor Cornell Rasanga.