The recent public vetting provided a rare window into the lives of Kenya’s top cops.
Many were glued onto the television sets, captivated by the officers’ declaration of their wealth and cash-flow details.
Many smacked their lips as the officers struggled to explain the discrepancies between their pay and cash deposits into their accounts.
It emerged that some even managed to deposit more than Sh2 million into their bank accounts in a day and similar amounts into their spouses bank accounts. But if you thought only top cops seem to swim beyond tides of their meagre salaries, the you are wrong.
Paul Wakaba (not his real name) graduated from Kiganjo Police Training Collehe in 2001 and was posted to Nairobi. The, he was being paid a basic salary of Sh4, 500 and some allowances bringing to a total of Sh8, 000, the money he carried home at the end of the month.
But today, ten years later, Wakaba, who is still a constable, is a millionaire. His bank accounts can prove this, the man owns several plots and drives a Prado Landcruiser.
Wakaba’s story is replicated in many places in the police force. Though most of the junior police officers interviewed said the cash-flow comes from businesses they run, questions abound to the exact source of the instant wealth, given the police known salaries.
A police officer who was attached to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in 1998 was said to have accumulated wealth beyond his payslip.
“He had two Land Cruisers and he had even started building a six bedroomed palatial home in Kakamega,” says a relative of the officer who declined to be named.
The said officer would leave his friends in a pub, dash to the airport and return with more than Sh100,000. When he was transferred from his duty station to a police station in Eldoret, he could not survive. He died a few months later and the unfinished house is a reminder of what would have been had he remained at the airport.
When the government adopted the Philip Ransley Report on Police Reforms that proposed hike of police salaries and allowances last year, the least paid officer — a police constable now earns Sh23, 000 inclusive of allowances of Sh7, 145.
A corporal now earns Sh20, 987, sergeant Sh28, 671, a senior sergeant from Sh31, 737, and an inspector Sh33, 903.
A chief inspector basic salary will move from Sh32, 800 to 37,392, a superintendent (Sh34, 000 to Sh38, 000), and senior superintendent (Sh39, 800 to Sh44, 576).
The basic pay for an assistant commissioner of police (ACP) is Sh54, 000, senior assistant commissioner is Sh62, 451, while a deputy commissioner receives Sh89, 000. The salary for the Administration Police (AP) Commandant and Commissioner of Prisons is Sh141, 000. The officers also receive allowances depending on their ranks. A constable gets an allowance of Sh7, 000, a corporal Sh7, 800, a sergeant Sh8, 540 and a senior sergeant Sh9, 000.
An inspector gets Sh12, 000, a chief inspector Sh16, 000, a superintendent Sh26, 500, a senior superintendent Sh26, 500, an assistant commissioner Sh30, 500, a senior assistant commissioner, deputy commissioner and senior deputy Sh47, 000 each. A commissioner of prisons and commandant of AP get Sh228, 000 each.
Police officers, we talked to, say corruption starts at recruitment, training and later at workstations and when one is seeking for promotion.
“If you have a well-connected relative or friend, you are posted to areas deemed lucrative after the passing out ceremony,” an officer said.
He named the Central Bank, the airports, Kenya Ports Authority, Customs, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Immigration Department, Traffic, Parliament and weighbridges as the areas where officers dream to be posted to because they are likely to make quick money in a short period.
Officers also love Parliament and Central Bank because of the huge allowances given.
“At the weighbridges, the owners of the trucks are willing to part with millions so that their vehicles which normally exceed the recommended weight pass,” an officer based at a weighbridge confirmed.
Those at the traffic openly collect bribes and let defective vehicles and errant drivers go scot-free while those at the ports and customs are bribed not to impose the required rules.
Other areas where illegal money changes hands are the Immigration department, kidnappings and illegal drugs.
“Aliens are willing to pay huge amounts of money to come to Kenya just like drug peddlers are also ready to part with big cash to be let off the hook,” one police officer said.
He added, “Some officers engage in kidnappings to get money. Alternatively, the families of those kidnapped secretly reward those who take part in rescuing kidnapped people.
Junior police officers that do the general beats (patrols) have been forced to engage in corruption because their efforts to fight it normally end up in dismissals or transfer to hardship areas.
“There are many business premises that hide aliens here in Nairobi. But when we arrest them, we receive calls from our seniors ordering us to release them. The offenders laugh at us and tell us that we are stupid because our seniors are paid handsomely for protecting them,” an officer who normally does night patrols in Nairobi said.
So they learn quickly and choose to cooperate with the offenders so long as they are making money.
“I once arrested a man with bhang and he gave me Sh1 million and told me to keep quiet. I took the money and let him go. I do not want to be sent to Mandera or be fired,” a traffic officer who works along Mombasa road said.
To get promotions to the so-called money-minting centres, junior officers part with a minimum of Sh100, 000, with an unwritten agreement that they will continue sharing part of the loot with the line bosses.
In order to seal loopholes, which can let out secrets, the officers keep the illegal money in wives’, children’s or siblings’ accounts.
“It will be suicidal to bank Sh1 million in a day when you have never deposited more than your salary in your bank account,” one officer said.
An officer who works with the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) wondered why the public is hard on police officers about the source of their wealth.
“Our riches come from you the public. It is human to make money when an opportunity presents itself. You should also question how a storekeeper at a public hospital or a junior water officer becomes a millionaire in five years,” he said.
–[VIDEO]Three senior police officers fired over millions in bank accounts