Commission faults Koome’s move to promote officers

Wednesday, June 7th, 2023 06:30 | By
NPS Koome
Chairperson of the National Police Service Commission Eliud Kinuthia (left) and CEO Peter Leley when they appeared before the National Cohesion Committee of the National Assembly on May 30. PHOTO/Kenna Claude

The simmering turf war between the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) and police boss Japhet Koome finally burst into the open yesterday with the former declaring Koome’s promotion of over 500 senior officers unlawful, irregular and unprocedural.

In a no-holds-barred press statement, the commission said Koome had no authority in law to promote the officers and warned that any member of the service who attempts to implement the proposed changes “would be personally held liable”.

The standoff is likely to leave the police service in limbo over whether the changes will be effected and spark confusion over who will now be reporting to whom if the changes are effected.

NPSC Chief Executive Peter Leley yesterday warned that all the purported promotions will attract personal liability should the officers in question obtain benefits due to the new ranks assigned to them by the Inspector General of Police. Any officer who uses such a rank has been warned that any benefits so obtained will attract personal liability, the commission warned.

Among those who have been promoted in the disputed changes are the newly-appointed Commandant of the General Service Unit, Eliud Lagat, the director-general of the Kenya Coast Guard Service (KCGS), Bruno Shioso, Deputy Director of Criminal Investigations Nicholas Kamwende, the director of DCI’s Investigations Bureau (IB) Abdallah Komesha and John Onyango. All have been promoted to the rank of Senior Assistant Inspector General (SAIG). Also promoted to the same rank was David Birech, the Director of Internal Affairs Unit.

All new regional police commanders — who were of the rank of Commissioner of Police — were also promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General (AIG). They include Nairobi Regional Police commander Adamson Bungei, Mombasa’s Peter Kimani, North Eastern’s Tom Muriithi, Eastern’s Joseph Napeiyan, Esther Seroney (DCI Airport), Alfred Majimbo, Francis Ndiema, Said Kiprotich (DCI Operations) and Paul Wachira (Deputy Director, IB). Also promoted to the rank of AIG was National Police Service spokesperson Resila Onyango.

Sources told People Daily that Koome unveiled the promotions at a meeting held at Harambee House on Monday.

Present at the meeting were senior officials from the Ministry of Interior. At the time of the announcement, NPSC members were at a retreat in Mombasa. The changes were made without their knowledge or involvement. The move provoked the wrath of NPSC chairman Eliud Kinuthia and his team.

They called a press conference at Mombasa’s Pride Inn Hotel yesterday at around 9am but after keeping journalists waiting till around 1pm, they called off the press briefing under unclear circumstances.

Later in the evening, Leley released a press statement in which NPSC said it could not ascertain the merits of the promotions as there were no related vacancies declared nor approved by the commission.

Fair opportunity

He further warned that the commission would hold any officer who implements Koome’s directives on the promotions personally liable if they act without a written communication from the Commission.

“The promotions are contrary to Article 246 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, the National Police Service Commission Promotion Regulations, 2015, Chapter 34 of the National Police Service Standing Orders, 2017 and the National Police Service Career Guidelines,” Kinuthia warned, setting the stage for a stand-off between the commission on the one hand and Koome and the promoted officers on the other.

Kinuthia maintained that all promotions in the police must be based on merit as well as equal and fair opportunity to all members of the service.

“Promotions must also be equitable and have considerations on gender and regional balance and must meet requirements of ethics and integrity,” the NPSC said in its press statement.

The commissioners warned the Principal Administrative Secretary in charge of the National Police Service to refrain from implementing any promotions or related payroll decisions based on actions not determined by the commission.

“The Inspector General should recall his illegal actions as they totally flout various constitutional principles and his failure to uphold the rule of law as a State officer,” Leley said.

He added that NPSC was committed to ensuring fairness and equal opportunity in administrative actions and was working to clear the confusion caused by what the commission described as “unprocedural and unlawful actions” by Koome.

The IG had also promoted other officers from the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) to CP. Among the beneficiaries were the head of Economic and Commercial Crimes Unit (ECCU) Abdullahi Shuria, Kiambu head of DCI Richard Mwaura, Deputy Head of Forensics Anthony Muriithi, Director of Counter-Terrorism at NPS Dennis Omunyiri, and the DCI’s personal assistant, Lawrence Some.

Usurping roles

Former deputy head of the disbanded Flying Squad Jackson Owino, currently in charge of Subukia division, was also promoted to Senior Superintendent of Police.

All the promoted officers had on Monday received letters informing them of their new ranks. The list was sent to the NPSC for ratification but this backfired because the commission and the police boss have not been enjoying a good working relationship in recent months.

A week ago, Leley and the commissioners appeared before the National Assembly’s Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) where they accused Koome of failing to implement some of their recommendations, and accused him of usurping the commission’s human resource functions.

They told MPs that the IG was subordinate to the commission and should comply with legal policy and the institutional regulatory framework guiding the commission’s human resource functions.

“The Inspector General of Police has severally cited Article 245(4) of the Constitution as the reason for not implementing decisions of the commission on recruitment, appointments, confirmation in appointments, dismissal, transfers and promotions,” the commissioners told MPs.

According to them, Koome’s actions had resulted in irregular and unprocedural decisions with ethical, legal and public finance management implications.

Some commissioners claimed Koome was dishing out promotions to his allies without following competitive criteria.

They also told the MPs that the perception that the IG’s office was independent had affected Koome’s performance as an NPSC commissioner.

Part of the job of the commission is to determine promotions within the service. The IG recommends officers earmarked for promotion to the commission after following the due process as laid out in the regulations and police standing orders.

Under Article 246(3), the functions of the commission include to “recruit and appoint persons to hold or act in offices in the service, confirm appointments and determine promotions and transfers within the National Police Service.”

This mandate appears to be the bone of contention between the commission and the IG, who no longer see eye-to-eye. The law also stipulates that all the national security organs are subordinate to civilian authority, hence the commission’s frustration in its turf war with the IG.

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