What you need to know:
- Mohamed promised not to relent in the fight against crime and money laundering.
- In his first press briefing immediately after being sworn in yesterday, Mohamed decided to give Kenyans his mobile phone number, asking them to report any issue directly to him.
- The last two people to hold his position — Mr Kinoti and Mr Ndegwa Muhoro — were forced out of office with unsolved high-profile murders, accusations of stage-managed arrests, extrajudicial killings and involvement in politics.
The new Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Amin Mohamed promised a fresh start for the department and gave out his number to the public as a sign of goodwill as he signed up for one of the toughest jobs of his career.
Mr Mohamed, who took his oath of office at the Supreme Court yesterday, termed his ascension to the top office of Kenya’s foremost investigative body as a fresh start for the agency. He promised not to relent in the fight against crime and money laundering.
“This is a new chapter for the DCI [Directorate of Criminal Investigations] and I want to promise the President and the people of Kenya that I will not let you down. I am ready for the task and ready to lead the DCI to deal with the challenges of our time,” he said.
“We shall tackle the temporary challenges facing the country, including terrorism, narcotics, human trafficking, cybercrime, money laundering and corruption to the extent that our mandate allows,” said the DCI.
At 58, and with a career spanning 33 years in the security sector, Mr Mohamed, who took charge of Mazingira Complex, which houses the DCI headquarters and the National Forensic Laboratory, has reported to familiar ground, having exited the service in March 2019.
Yet, even as he succeeds Mr George Kinoti, who retired last month, the agency is facing one of the most serious assaults on its public image since its formation as the Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU) in 1926.
With corruption cases against politicians allied to President William Ruto collapsing by the day in court and an elite unit in the department accused of carrying out extrajudicial killings, it will be a baptism of fire for Mr Mohamed.
He will have to quickly find a way to navigate the DCI from the murky waters it is currently swimming in.
The key challenge, however, is how to prevent the public from losing trust in a department that has, over the years, become popular among Kenyans due to the open manner it has been conducting its business.
Yet despite this soaring popularity pushed by publicised arrests, leaking of investigations to the press and titillating crime stories on its social media accounts, which endeared the DCI to the public during Mr Kinoti’s tenure, there are accusations that the unit was kidnapping and eliminating criminals.
This is perhaps why Mr Mohamed, in his first press briefing immediately after being sworn in yesterday, decided to give Kenyans his mobile phone number, asking them to report any issue directly to him.
“For purposes of record I’d like to declare my number, which is 0722415419 so that any member of the public can easily reach out to me,” said Mr Mohamed.
A hard-nosed and media-shy detective who has served as head of the Internal Affairs Unit, Banking Fraud Unit and Head of Investigations at the DCI, Mr Mohamed will need all the experience he has and wisdom to succeed.
The last two people to hold his position — Mr Kinoti and Mr Ndegwa Muhoro — were forced out of office with unsolved high-profile murders, accusations of stage-managed arrests, extrajudicial killings and involvement in politics.
On top of avoiding to these traps which will likely be laid for him by the state, Mr Mohamed will have to restore relations between his office and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), which collapsed in March 2020.
Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and Mr Kinoti formed an unlikely partnership that gave an impression that the war on corruption was finally being won immediately after they took office in 2018, but had a falling out amid accusations that they were being used to target Dr Ruto’s allies.
“We shall try as much as possible to work in collaboration with other security agencies and other actors of the criminal justice system including the ODPP, Judiciary, amongst others for purposes of serving Kenyans without prejudice,” promised Amin.
With Mr Kinoti out of the DCI, President Uhuru Kenyatta having retired and a new Inspector General of Police and Interior Cabinet Secretary almost taking office, there is a chance to reset the whole criminal justice system.
During his vetting before parliament on Tuesday, the Cabinet Secretary nominee for the Interior Ministry, Prof Kithure Kindiki, promised that the new regime in charge of the country’s internal security will be different from his predecessor Fred Matiang’i’s.
“In some of the most secure countries, ruthlessness with criminals is matched with respect to human rights so law-abiding citizens don’t have to fear,” said Prof Kindiki.
The new system is, however, coming in place when various political actors have already demanded how they want the DCI to operate, demands that threaten to reduce morale among officers, increase corruption and destabilise the fight against crime. Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua, especially, has been very pronounced on this matter.
“We have told DCI to go back to Kiambu Road and wait for crimes to be reported there. They have no business in government offices hovering all over and creating a toxic environment for service delivery,” said the DP last month.
“We cannot have detectives in government offices because they poison the atmosphere for civil servants to deliver,” he said.