Week #2. The five things we learnt

Statement-taking is still not the force’s forte

There has been a lot of noise from the Director of the Criminal Investigations Department, the police spokesman and his deputy over the last fortnight regarding the person that will become Kenya’s first Inspector General of police, which is dropping the adjective “force” in favour of “service”.

The thinking behind this change of surname is that with the new-fangled environment of reform, those that draw their pay from taxes will be doing the populace a service and not forcing themselves on them.

They will thus not be forcing them into cells or forcing them onto their knees if they appear not to recognise and therefore exempt them from the mundane stuff that the rest are routinely forced to do (thank you, Madam Deputy Chief Justice).

I digress.

What Messrs Muhoro, Kiraithe and Owino have sought to convince us is that unless one of those serving is appointed Inspector-General, the officers will take up arms and seek to govern not only themselves but the rest of the country by force and at their own terms.

There will be nothing short of a mutiny, they declaim.

The accompanying argument is that nobody, other than those that have been through Kiganjo, the Administration Police Training School at Embakasi or the CID training school, can do the job better.

Fair enough, one is tempted to say, given the constabulary has been around since the homeguards were recruited by the colonialists.

Looking around, there is still evidence that these very well-trained fellows need something more than the training they have undergone and all the qualifications they presumably have.

Take the case of Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza.

She had made a little statement when Rebecca Kerubo and her superiors at the Village Market reported the “unfortunate incident” there on New Year’s Eve.

When the matter was escalated, she was invited (there are those who say she was summoned) to a session with some senior CID officers, presumably at the headquarters across the road from Karura forest.

It was later reported that the Vice President of the Supreme Court had made a self-incriminating statement, allegedly confessing to having taken a gun and pointing it at Rebecca Kerubo.

This was supposed to be the statement that triggered the police to advise the Director of Public Prosecutions to have the judge “arraigned in court” as our court reporters are wont to put it.

When it was reported that the DPP had had the file returned to the police, it was also said Judge Baraza had recanted the statement on the basis that it was not taken properly?

Is it still very difficult to take a statement, even in a case for which the Commissioner of Police is reported to be prepared to resign?

 

CCTV can still not be trusted

Arriving at the Nyahururu home of Samuel Wanjiru Kamau a day after he died, one of the first things I noticed were the closed-circuit television cameras at the high gate and wall and next to the balcony from which he jumped.

It was one of those light bulb moments that yielded a second lead on the front page and the appropriate accompanying photograph that had Terezah Njeri and the CCTV monitor in it, clear evidence that it held the truth we seek to date.

When my colleague James Kariuki asked the police about it, they were surprised but clever enough to quickly state that they also considered it crucial to their investigations.

That those investigations were complete in less than a day is another story.

When it was eventually retrieved, it was found that the recording was virtually useless as the camera mounted at the gate opposite the balcony, which would have recorded the jump, was not working.

It was four days after the event, the scene had not been secured and had therefore been washed, and the recording had been on the machine there for anybody with a chance to mess it up.  

The explanation also sufficed. The technicians had not had the chance to service it regularly, nobody had stayed at the house for long since January 2011 and it seems the dead owner was not interested in it.

Compare this with the circumstances at the Village Market Shopping Mall, located a few metres from the United Nations Office in Nairobi, the UNEP headquarters, with hundreds of high-end shops, hundreds of expatriate and leafy suburbs clientele.

So seriously is the security taken here that the mall employs its own security guards and has 18 CCTV cameras installed and connected to a central monitoring room.

It is therefore safe to assume that the security system has been reviewed and audited, the guards trained and the cameras positioned appropriately and their lenses polished regularly to ensure the safety of the mall, often christened high-end, is not compromised.

How extraordinary, then, that a customer can have a security guard on her knees, with a gun pointed at her head, yet the cameras have no record of the weapon because the images are supposedly too grainy and the scope of the device too limited?

Mutahi, Mwau, Ghai and Issack were correct, after all

I’m hunched over this computer a foot or two away from the Friday, Saturday and Sunday newspapers.

The Friday paper leads with the DPP’s return of the Baraza file to the police, the Saturday with the judges throwing the election date back at Kibaki and Raila and the Sunday one declaring that Raila has some sort of “secret weapon.”

Friday’s is straight reportage, Saturday tries to report and analyse the ruling, while Sunday’s interpretation seems a little off the line, and a friend of mine is of the opinion that the interpretation is way off the mark.

You can get all the opinion and analysis of the High Court’s ruling on the election date at www.nation.co.ke, so forgive me if I don’t burden you with one more winded opinion.

I did, however, notice that the ruling reinforced some positions taken as far back as October last year, or much earlier in the case of Mutahi Ngunyi, who now spends more time on The Bench than as a widely read columnist.

The ruling basically reinforces the position taken by Harun Mwau- whose opinion would have been dismissed on the basis that he speaks as an interested party since he is an MP.

Mutahi would have been thrown out for his supposedly wrong reading of the Constitution- he did correctly assert that the President no longer has the power to dissolve Parliament- or for appearing to serve narrow interests.

As much as Prof Yash Pal Ghai is remembered for that valiant but doomed attempt at a Constitution, his latter activities remind us of the noisy activists, who nowadays appear keen on shouting themselves out of public favour. As the Prime Minister reminded us when Pheroze Nowrojee’s name came up when the President wrongly appointed some public officials, activists are not very much liked in this reformist government.

Issack Hassan would have been dismissed because he would be seen to have been seeking a way out of giving us an election in August.

All four, and a lot many others, were correct, and so unless Mwai Kibaki and Raila Odinga decide otherwise, and are man enough to put it in writing, it is Election 2013.

 

Naivasha is good for peace and progress

Naivasha has a lake surrounded by nice camp sites for which you pay an arm and a leg, expensive lodges, flower farms that are forever expanding, an eccentric MP and bad memories of the post-election violence.

Because it is merely an hour and a half from Nairobi by road, it is also considered an ideal destination for honeymooners and an ideal location to shake off Nairobi’s accumulated cement dust.

Unlike the restaurants on Lenana Road, one is also not likely to encounter a drunken learned or political friend with opinion and time to spare over a few drinks.

It was thus the setting for the reconciliation between the Attorney General, Prof Githu Muigai, and his learned friend Charles Nyachae, who heads the pugnacious Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution.

It did not take long for Abdikadir Mohammed  and his colleagues on the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee to convince the two of the need to have a unified approach to the implementation of Kenya’s supreme law.

We cannot doubt that the peaceful atmosphere offered the two a chance to speak freely.

I maintain there was no beef between the two, only that they deemed it a far more enriching experience to keep newspaper hacks busy reporting and analysts offering insight into their “war of words”.

On Monday, the day before he headed off to the Rift Valley, Prof Muigai was in a meeting of the Judicial Service Commission.

We, the press people, were camped outside the JSC’s boardroom.

Prof Muigai walked in at about 2.30 p.m.

He was wearing a pair of stunners and the camera men and photographers swung into action and began taking pictures of his arrival.

The man from Ndumberi swaggered, stopped a foot away from the door and the cameramen, and appeared to pose for the photographs in the manner of a Hollywood star on a red carpet.

He stepped out of the boardroom after about an hour, talking on his iPhone, and as he walked back, another photographer stepped out to take his picture.

The professor looked straight into the camera.

 

There is no shortage of political parties in Kenya

It would have been naïve to imagine that William Ruto and Co would be lonely and wandering in the political cold after ditching the United Democratic Movement.

Was he going back to his mama and baba KANU? Would he go back and kiss the hand of the Don at ODM and beg to be accepted back in the fold? Would he walk over to the House in Milimani and talk to the mzee about joining PNU?

Nope. He would not. He would establish his own party instead.

Unlike Kibaki’s PNU, which was launched with neither emblem, anthem nor colours two months to the election in 2007, Mr Ruto’s United Republican Party has the full package.

It even had a full house of delegates on standby and I write this on the day the party has been launched, with a house full of supporters.

The PNU Alliance has been launched already, with a big bus (mbas, if you ask its secretary general) as its symbol, and a grand launch in the hot sun at Kenyatta International Conference Centre last Friday.

There is bound to be some confusion from all these activities and we have no assurances that anything will change for the better.

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