The ongoing infighting within the National Police Service Commission took a new twist on Monday after chairman Eliud Kinuthia nullified promotions announced by Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome.
Koome, his Deputy Inspector General of Kenya Police Douglas Kanja, and Administration Police’s Noor Gabow are members of the commission.
But the uniformed members have differed with Kinuthia and some commissioners within the commission on how things should be run.
For instance, Koome, Kanja, and Gabow as it has been a norm had Monday announced promotions of dozens of officers and allowed them to wear the new insignia.
They even sent letters to the affected officers informing them of their new ranks and congratulated them.
The IG sent a list to the commission offices in Westlands informing the chairman of the ranks, which needed ratification.
This has been the norm with police boards conducting interviews before promoting affected officers and later forwarding the names to the commission for ratification.
There has been bad blood among the commissioners in the past three months, which had grounded operations.
The differences came out Monday when Koome announced the promotions which saw General Service Unit Commandant Eliud Lagat, Deputy Director of DCI Nicholas Kamwende and head of Investigations at DCI Abdallah Komesha promoted to the rank of Senior Assistant Inspector General of police (S/AIG).
Also promoted was Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) Director David Birech.
All new regional police commanders were promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General of police.
National Police Service spokesperson Dr Resla Onyango, Nairobi regional police commander Adamson Bungei, Mombasa’s Tom Kimani, North Eastern’s Tom Muriithi and Eastern’s Joseph Napeiyan were promoted to the rank of AIG.
Dozens of other officers in the Administration Police and DCI were promoted to various ranks.
But Kinuthia termed the move null and void announcing he had nullified the changes.
And to make the opposition public, Kinuthia who was in Mombasa for an official meeting has called for a press conference at a hotel to denounce the promotions.
Insiders say the fighting is out of a misunderstanding of the law, which has now seen tens of pending promotions lying unattended.
The group of commissioners led by Kinuthia have protested and accused others of usurping their mandate.
They say Koome’s decision on the promotion and recruitment of officers is illegal.
NPSC commissioners, while appearing before the National Assembly’s Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC) on May 30, said in their endeavour to execute their mandate, faced several challenges and impediments, including the IG’s refusal to implement their decisions.
The commission said the ministry has been usurping its constitutional mandate without consultation.
NPSC chief executive Peter Leley and his members met the committee to highlight its progress in fulfilling its mandate as outlined in the Constitution, enabling legislation and developing regulations and policies.
The Commission maintained that Koome was subordinate to NPSC and should fully comply with the legal policy, and institutional regulatory framework guiding the team’s human resource functions.
Commission’s major grievance is that Koome has single-handedly made decisions on appointments and promotions without involving them.
By virtue of his position, IG and his deputies are members of the commission.
“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 commission told the House team.
They further noted that Koome’s actions had resulted in numerous irregular and unprocedural decisions with ethical, legal and public finance management implications.
According to NPSC, the ‘commission’ referred to in Article 246(1) whose functions are stipulated in 246(3)(a) is not a person but a civilian authority to which National Police Service is subordinate.
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.”
Article 239(5) stipulates that the national security organs are subordinate to civilian authority.
The Commission also told Constitutional Implementation and Oversight Committee (CIOC) that the perception of the office of the IG as being independent has affected his performance.
“This will in the long run affect service delivery for the citizen and may prolong the time he takes to settle down. The commission, thus, recommends implementation of a performance contract and evaluation for officers of senior ranks on HR-related matters,” NPSC recommended.
NPSC said the perceived overlapping mandates was as a result of wrong and selective interpretation of the Constitution.
When reached for comment, Koome told said the constitution was clear on such matters.
“Read the constitution article 245(4)(c),” he said.
The Constitution expects the IG to exercise independent command over the Service. Article 245(4) states that the Cabinet Secretary responsible for police services may lawfully give a direction to the IG with respect to any matter of policy for the service.
Constitution further states that no person may give a direction to the IG with respect to the investigation of offences, enforcement of the law against any person or the employment, assignment, promotion, suspension or dismissal of any member of the service.
“The CS may give instructions to IG but not on matters that are a reserve of the commission,” Leley said.
The commission has now warned that HR management decisions made by the Inspector General for officers and civilian members of staff without determination and approval are unethical, illegitimate and vulnerable to litigations and subject to financial management discrepancies in audit queries, employees’ pension and psychosocial well-being of the police officers.
“Any interference with the payroll management and administration without commission approval is contrary to Leadership and Integrity Act 2012 and Article 10, 232 of the CoK on values and principles of good governance of public service.”