Lenku, Kimaiyo fate hangs in the balance
The fate of Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku and Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo hangs in the balance following a push by key presidential advisers to have them replaced in the face of repeated lapses.
Under increased public pressure to act after repeated attacks by Al-Shabaab militants, President Uhuru Kenyatta has held a series of crisis meetings in search of a lasting solution to the problem.
It is understood that some of the advisers argue that security agencies have yet to return dividends despite increased budgetary support from the government, the most outstanding being the leasing of hundreds of vehicles for the police, construction of modern housing units for officers and the plan to have a comprehensive insurance cover for policemen and their families.
The calls for the sacking or resignation of top security chiefs first erupted after the deadly Westgate Mall terror attack in September last year.
The demands were renewed following the Mpeketoni attacks in July this year and hit a crescendo with last week’s killing of 28 Kenyans in a bus ambush in Mandera County.
According to sources familiar with the deliberations, President Kenyatta could make his moves before the Christmas holiday, although it is uncertain what measures he will institute.
“These are sensitive matters that only the President can comment about . . . the outcome of the meetings held so far can only be a matter of speculation for now,” the source told the Sunday Nation.
The Jubilee administration has come under scathing attack from the Opposition as well as civil society groups for its inability to stop the attacks by the Somalia-based terrorist group.
In as much as he enjoys security of tenure, it is understood that Mr Kimaiyo’s position could be in jeopardy after it emerged that the government may ask Parliament to initiate a move that could send him packing.
The National Police Service Act stipulates that the inspector-general may be removed from office after a person seeking to do so petitions the National Police Commission setting out reasons for the action.
Some of the grounds for removal include serious violation of the Constitution or any other law.
Others are gross misconduct whether in the performance of the officeholder’s functions or otherwise, physical or mental incapacity to perform the functions of office, incompetence as well as bankruptcy.
As this happens, it has also emerged that the Presidency was still studying a proposed Bill by Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki which seeks to establish a unit to deal with terrorist threats.
“I am still consulting with the Presidency on the Homeland Security Bill; it is a multi-sectoral Bill which will address all these challenges,” Prof Kindiki said on Saturday.
The Sunday Nation was informed of a series of closed-door meetings in the past three days, as it emerged that the new leader of Al-Shabaab may have sanctioned the Mandera massacre to assert his authority and gain acceptance among members of the group.
Abu Umar, who took over from Ali Godane who was killed in a US air strike two months ago, is out to stamp his authority on the radical group that operates in Somalia.
Umar, also known as Abu Ubaidah, is little known outside Al-Shabaab circles but was unanimously appointed to head the terrorist group and promised to avenge the death of Godane.
According to intelligence sources, a group of about 30 Al-Shabaab militants crossed over from Somalia’s Gedo region into Kenya on November 15.
The group was said to have been in six cars. They are said to have pitched camp at Omar Jillo, an Al-Shabaab cell hideout in Kenya after bribing some government officers.
The information, according to top security chiefs, was issued to the police to act way before the bus attack took place.
According to the sources, their mission was to execute a Westgate type attack or a random one in crowded places such as markets and bus stops.
According to security officers, the group picked on the Makkah bus because it was a soft target after they noticed a movement of many non-Muslim Kenyans who were leaving the town for the Christmas holidays.
After the attack, survivors claim police took two hours to respond to distress calls.
SECURITY STRATEGY IN SHAMBLES
The sources also said that the whereabouts of about 15 Al-Shabaab fighters remains unknown, and it is feared they vanished into Kenyan towns from where they could be plotting more attacks.
On Saturday security expert Major (retired) Bashir Abdullahi said Kenya’s internal security strategy was in a shambles, giving terrorist an easy access.
“The internal security elements have not been proactive. When we had a lull in Al-Shabaab attacks, we should not have relaxed. Above all, the issue of border surveillance does not seem to be in place.
And what happened to the story of creating a buffer zone along the borders? Anyone can walk into Kenya and walk out. KDF have done a good job in Somalia by disrupting Al-Shabaab, but they have moved to softer targets which are inside Kenya,” he said.
“Our actions in Somalia should be matched by bold internal actions against Al-Shabaab,” said Mr Bashir.
Mr George Musamali, another security expert, argued that for Kenya to be safe, security matters must be delinked from politics. “Our level of preparedness is still wanting.
We were hit at Westgate, Mpeketoni, Hindi and now Mandera. It looks like we will be hit again if we do not delink security from politics,” he said.
Mr Musamali wonders why Ethiopia, despite having soldiers in Somali, was not being hit like Kenya.
“In Ethiopia there is a lot of civil participation in matters security. The President should not tell us that security is our responsibility.
We need to create a situation where members of the public can easily share information with security agencies especially with the police.”
Also, northern Kenya should not be seen as a place where police officers are transferred to as a disciplinary measure.
“This creates a situation where the officers know that from here it’s home and so they must make money (through corruption) and not serve.
Officers should not be transferred to Mandera or Garissa as a disciplinary measure,” he said.
The massacre of the 28 Kenyans has put the government on the back foot following a hue and cry from citizens.
A demonstration known as #Tumechoka #OccupyHarambeeAvenue designed to get Mr Lenku and Mr Kimaiyo sacked was held for the first time since the Jubilee government took over about 14 months ago.
Parliament suspended business to discuss the state of insecurity in the country with some members saying that President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto should take political responsibility for their inability to adequately protect Kenyans.
FIND LASTING SOLUTION
The President’s remarks on arrival from a visit to Abu Dhabi that security was the responsibility of all was construed by some opposition Members of Parliament to mean that the government had surrendered to terrorists.
The Sunday Nation was told on Saturday that there was anxiety among top security chiefs who sit on the National Security Council (NSC) and the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) after President Kenyatta reportedly directed them to find a lasting solution to the terror attacks or resign.