Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere addressing a press conference
By Jerry Okungu
September 12, 2012
Tana Delta is burning. Massacre of innocent ordinary Kenyans is slowly becoming the order of the day. It is the kind of reality that Kenyans must get used to. Looking at the ghastly scenes on our local TV screens in Nairobi, one can be forgiven for thinking that Tana Delta is a jungle out there; another country and definitely not part of the Kenyan territory.
Yes, it is only in Kenya where loss of human lives through murders can reach 100 in less than three weeks before the Executive authority wakes up. Yes, I say Executive to mean the Office of the President that proudly holds the portfolios of departments of Defence, Internal Security and National Security Intelligence Services.
The reason the Tana Delta tragedy must be placed at the doorsteps of the President of the Republic of Kenya is simply this: The same President is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Kenya. These armed forces include the Administration Police, the General Service Unit, the Regular Police Force, the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.
In matters of Internal Security, the Police, the NSIS and the Director of Public Prosecutions have to work in tandem to primarily preempt and prevent crime of any kind. If they cannot do this, then there is a failure of unprecedented magnitude exposing huge populations to grave danger as happened in the Rift Valley in 2008 and now happening in Tana Delta in 2012.
The reason Tana Delta has burned for four weeks without any action being taken is simply this: sacred cows in leadership positions have grown to enjoy an arrogant approach to the way they deal with their real and imagined enemies. These warlords have seen mayhem in Rift Valley, Kilifi, Mombasa and parts of Nyanza since 1992 without anybody being punished for it. They therefore know they can get away with anything.
We watch hate speeches being made by top politicians in front of cameras and senior police officers and instead of arresting the inciters, the police can only proceed to give them maximum protection. Indeed we have become accustomed to treating our inciters with kids' gloves, the more reason they have become bolder with each passing day.
It times of a national tragedy such as the one we have going on in Tana Delta, Kenya needs a ruthless President that can be as hard on his bosom friends as he can be on his adversaries. It is pointless to have friends in the cabinet whose only pastime is to embarrass the President from time to time with their incompetence, negligence or lack of work ethic.
At the end of the day any Minister of State the Office of the President managing Internal Security, Defence or National Intelligence only exercises those powers on behalf of the President. Indeed the President is the Principal Internal Security and Defence Minister by virtue of his authority as the CEO of Kenya and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
It is for these reasons that when Kenyans feel exposed to criminal elements from within and without, whether from the Al Shabbab, Oromos of Ethiopia, South Sudanese soldiers or Museveni’s soldiers squatting on Migingo Island, it is the President who must take responsibility and bear the blame.
If for some reason that cannot be explained, we could allow criminals to come into the country like the Artur Brothers did in 2006 and terrorized us for a good six months simply because they had connections to operatives at the State House, it is the President that must take responsibility.
When a security breach has occurred not once but three times as has happened in Tana Delta, a substantive President must lead from the front. The President should take to task Security Intelligence operatives, the Provincial Security Committee whose chair is the PC of the Province rather than arresting a helpless small chief in the village.
When gangs can overpower security officers sent to the area to deal with them and even kill ten of them without officers returning a single fire, then ordinary Kenyans should be really afraid brace themselves for worse times ahead.
As it is now; it is evident that the Police Force whose reason to exist is to maintain law and order has failed on the job. The Force no longer has reason to exist. If indeed we deploy the military to Tana Delta because of police failure, no amount of excuses can exonerate them from blame.
And let me be a little bit more drastic in my proposal.
In 1982, following the coup attempt against Moi, the President disbanded the Kenya Air Force and actually put the remnants of that Force under the Army Commander. Only years later was the Air Force reconstituted once the rotten eggs had been thrown out.
Right now we have a large police force comprising the regular and administration police. These two units are both armed yet they cannot keep law and order. It is possible that general indiscipline and corruption are the reason for non-performance rather than poor conditions of service.
It is therefore imperative that during this transition when we are looking for an Inspector General and his two deputies, the police force should be disbanded and its personnel put under the command of the Military Commander until such time that discipline will have returned in their ranks. This way, the military will have the free hand to deal with civilian unrests wherever they may occur without the fear of treading on police territory.