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Top officers feel the heat as graft claims dominate session

Bungoma West OCPD Tom Okoth listens attentively to a question from the National Police Service vetting panel. Mr Okoth is a former deputy OCPD of Mombasa Urban Police Division.

Bungoma West OCPD Tom Okoth  a former deputy OCPD of Mombasa Urban Police Division.

Senior police officers at the coast had a difficult time fighting off corruption allegations and sources of their wealth during the ongoing vetting by the National Police Service Commission.

Superintendent Simon ole Ntutu, had a hard time defending himself and his officers against corruption allegations at the Mariakani Weighbridge where he is stationed.

Mr Ntutu told the vetting panel, led by NPSC chairman Johnston Kavuludi, that he has been at the forefront in fighting corruption since his posting at the station two years ago.

“I have not received any gift or inducement since I went there. I have flushed out all agents, cartels, and brokers trying to do a lot of corruption. Six officers were interdicted under my watch and they are still interdicted and their cases are in court,” he said.

BANK ACCOUNT DETAILS

But he admitted that some overloaded vehicles sneak out of the weighbridge only to be intercepted at Mlolongo near Nairobi or Gilgil in Nakuru County.

“A truck can meet weight requirements at Mariakani, but somebody can add more load after it leaves the weighbridge,” he told the commission on Saturday.

The commission questioned his bank account details’ which it described as ‘modest’ as they only reflected him more as a livestock farmer. They said they will interrogate the matter further.

Mr Ntutu was also told to explain how his juniors at the Weighbridge could be richer than him.

In his defence, the officer said it was possible for a junior officer to be richer than his boss and he cannot question them over their sources of wealth.

“It is true, but they may have got it from elsewhere. I can’t dig into that,” Mr Ntutu said.

The commission also raised questions about his academic credentials, but Mr Ntutu said some of his certificates were destroyed by fire.

The panel said it will pursue the matter with the Kenya National Examinations Council.

DRUG LORDS

Superintendent Vincent Elekot who heads the Narcotics Department at Mombasa’s Kilindini Port was taken to task over failure to crack down on drug lords in the region.

But the officer said the issue has remained a challenge because those behind the drugs trade were powerful people.

“Drug barons are very powerful. I may arrest them but they contact big cartels from source countries like Pakistan and they are released on bonds even when taken to court,” Mr Elekot said.

However, he said the department was working with the Kenya Navy, United Nations, Australia and Colombia to share intelligence, which has led to seizure of ships carrying drugs.

Meanwhile, the commission defended itself against accusations that the vetting was shallow.

Commissioner Murshid Mohammed, who together with Mr Kavuludi are leading the vetting team at the Kenya School of Government in Mombasa, said the exercise was thorough and will weed out police officers acting unprofessionally.

Cases in which the public or complainants claimed mistreatment in the hands of police were being undermined by their failure to send evidence of the alleged crime and identity of the policemen responsible and not because the panel was biased, he said.

“Even though there is a hue and cry of this issue of human rights violation committed by police officers, the civil society organisations have not submitted anything to us. We have no submissions from Haki Africa or Muslims for Human Rights Organization (Muhuri) on record,” said Mr Mohammed.

LOST FAITH IN VETTING

He was responding to a statement from Haki Africa which said they have lost faith in the ongoing vetting of police officers as many complaints from members of the public of wrongdoing by different police officers were being disregarded by the commission.

The human rights body also alleged that most officers declared ‘unfit’ to serve by the same commission, were sure of being reinstated after appeal.

But Mr Mohammed said even though they have accorded a lot of time to the organisations to submit their reports and conducted sensitisation campaigns through the police reforms working groups, they have not received reports from the lobby groups.

“We have interacted with the human rights groups. They have details of all the police officers and they ought to be canvassing these details from the public in an organised manner then submit it to the commission for deliberation and assistance in weeding out the bad police officers,” added the commissioner.

He emphasised that the team does not operate like a public relations body.

Mr Mohammed further pointed out that during vetting, they look at entry qualifications of police officers and their professional conduct and integrity using reports from the police service and the public.

“We look at any complaints which are in the police officer’s file. If we find that there is any irregularity or repetition, very harsh handling of reports towards fellow officers, then we inquire into it,” he added.

The vetting for coast region which continues today, had earlier been suspended owing to the wave of insecurity that hit Lamu and its neighbouring counties last year.

-Nation.co.ke

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