Cases of security officers in crime raise eyebrows
On Wednesday, two officers attached to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in Wajir and an Administration Police colleague were arrested while trafficking 250kg of bhang and an assortment of relief food in a government vehicle.
The arrest brings to about 30 the number of officers who have run afoul of the law in the past one month over suspected criminal activities, including murder, robbery and corruption. More than 100 others are under investigation for various cases of misconduct.
But even as involvement in criminal and corruption cases by police officers becomes more brazen, like in a case where a detective colluded with the family of a terror suspect to steal a crucial exhibit, police bosses maintain the situation is under control.
The cases are, however, largely under-reported, as police rarely tell on fellow officers involved in crime, making the statistics on rogue officers largely unreliable.
Yesterday, Deputy Inspector General in charge of Kenya Police Edward Mbugua said that most officers were professional and that those involved in corruption and criminal activities were arrested and charged.
“Ninety-nine per cent of our officers are professional and good. Only about 0.01 per cent are the bad apples, whom we have never hesitated to take action against. But people should not forget that police officers are human beings, and bound to be tempted like any other person. If governors and other senior personalities have been charged with criminal offences, what is wrong with one or two police officers being found on the wrong side of the law?” Mbugua posed.
His Administration Police counterpart Noor Gabow also termed the recent arrests especially of AP officers, as “isolated cases that were being dealt with”.
In the Wednesday morning case, Constables Japheth Kahindi and Bob Owino, both of Wajir DCI and AP Constable Michael Mwangi of Buna post, were arrested at Kanyonyo market on the Garissa-Thika highway.
DCI boss George Kinoti said the officers were found with bhang, Sh239,500 in cash, 300kg of rice, 100kg of beans and 150kg of sugar, all labelled ‘Government of Kenya’ and meant for relief food, contraband milk powder, assorted foodstuff and detergents.
Though the latest statistics show that most perpetrators are junior officers, a number of senior officers have been implicated in both criminal and corrupt dealings.
A recent investigation revealed that senior officers attached to the personnel and human resources directorate, for example, were soliciting bribes from officers to influence their transfers and deployments, especially to areas deemed “lucrative”.
“Senior officers, just like other managers, are on stage everyday, with their juniors watching and learning from their actions,” said a senior police officer who sought anonymity.
Failure to take disciplinary action against the culprits substantially increases the likelihood that peers would also engage in misconduct.
Mbugua, however, said action was usually taken.
“We have been taking rogue officers to court in case investigations link them to crimes,” he said.
But prosecuting rogue officers is particularly difficult because, unlike ordinary criminals, the officers know what evidence can be used against them and thus cover their tracks.
Reports show that some officers have been involved in murder and extra-judicial killings, inappropriate relationships with organised criminal networks, leaking information to criminals, stealing especially during security raids, fabricating evidence or helping suspects to escape prosecution, among others.
Investigations show that the perceived jump in the number of officers involved in crime is a tip of the iceberg; miscarriage of justice and obstruction of the have hit an all-time high.
According to the National Police Service Commission (NPSC), the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai has the delegated power to exercise full disciplinary action.
NPSC chief executive Joseph Onyango, however, yesterday said the situation in the force was under control.
“The commission exercises disciplinary control over the service but the IG is expected to take action,” he said.
He added that the commission handles cases of dismissal and demotion for convicted officers and also deals with appeals from those who are aggrieved.
One of the latest theft case involving police officers is the Sh72 million G4S heist where so far, seven officers, mostly from the Administration Police, have been arrested and charged. The last arrest on September 26 involved three police officers and a Kenya Defence Forces soldier.
AP Constable Simon Karuku, his wife Constable Caroline Waithera, and his sisters Constable Florence Wanjiru, and Corporal Eunice Karuku, were arrested after investigations linked them to the theft.
Earlier, on September 7, Constable Chris Machogu and police impostor Vincent Owour were arrested in Kisii and Kendu Bay and at total of Sh7 million recovered.
Mbugua said the theft was a conspiracy between some rogue officers and G4S staff, and had been handled professionally and the matter was before court.
In recent days, murder has become a common crime among officers.
In one of the cases, General Service Unit Constable Samson Morongo is accused of shooting dead his colleague Constable Stephen Mkangi at Wilson Airport and falsifying the report. Five other officers have been charged with murder in three separate incidents.
In the last one month, at least three officers have been arrested for stealing exhibits. On September 12, Corporal Lilian Simiyu attached to the EACC Mombasa was arrested for stealing Sh416,000 kept as exhibit and destroying other exhibits.
The same week, Constable Philip Mutie of Nairobi’s Central police station was arrested for stealing a motorcycle that had been detained at the police station yard. The bike was recovered in Ngomango in Kitui East where he had taken it and given it to his relative.
The arrest came two days after a senior DCI officer Joseph Katsungu and his two colleagues, Constables Alex Kiplimo and Alex Nganga were arrested with fake currency in Busia town.
Concerns have also been raised over the open manner in which the officers have been collecting bribes. In most urban centres, patrol officers spend a lot of time collecting bribes, euphemistically referred to as protection fees, especially from bars.
Mbugua admitted that some officers were extorting bar owners.
“We have such reports, which I cannot deny. We have, however, not received any formal complaint to enable us to investigate,” he said.
“To some patrol officers, the allure of selective corruption-induced patrols is just too tempting. The patrol cars can be seen moving from club-to-club especially after 11pm, collecting the bribes,” said former GSU officer-turned-security-expert George Musamali.
Investigations show that in some cases, action has secretly been taken against rogue officers without their colleagues or the public knowing.
A number of officers are dealt with in Orderly Room Proceedings as others are questioned behind closed doors which is deemed less damaging to the force’s reputation and morale in the service.
“There is likely to be a far wider range of unethical behaviour within the police service than we know. Again, fear of bad publicity and criticism have made the service not to open up about such cases,” said Musamali.