Battle lines drawn over election violence report

NSIS director-general Michael Gichangi and Police Commissioner Hussein Ali. Photos/FILE

A feud is brewing between two top security agencies on the Waki report, which severely criticised the conduct of the police during the post-election violence.

Police sources said the department is accusing the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS) of having told the Waki Commission that it did not act on the information they supplied to them prior to election warning of impending violence.

This may have contributed to Waki Commission’s harsh verdict on the conduct of the Police Force during the post-election violence, which left over 1,000 people dead.

Police feel the commission relied heavily on the NSIS submission and argue that this should not have been the case.

Other agencies

NSIS director-general Michael Gichangi told the commission that the intelligence service developed a 362 range of reports highlighting the issues and provided them to senior government officials as well as the police, military, prisons, and other agencies.

On how police reacted during the post-poll chaos, Commissioner Hussein Ali told the Waki Commission: “If similar situations occurred today, I would do exactly what I did.

“I would not change a thing my Lords, that is the honest truth because in the enforcement of law and ensuring that law and order is brought about in the protection of lives and properties, there is nothing that we shouldn’t do to ensure that our people are safe.”

The Nation learnt that a team of senior police officers, who have been examining the report, are preparing a Cabinet paper detailing their grievances.

Impeccable police sources confirmed the paper would be forwarded to President Kibaki. The Cabinet paper, whose contents amount to a protest against the Waki report, delves into the relationship between police and the NSIS.

Contacted on Wednesday, police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said it is not appropriate for the police to engage in discussing interdepartmental policies through the media.

But he conceded that “duties of the now defunct police Special Branch, had been transferred to the NSIS, and of course the budget for intelligence work had to go.”

He argued that the removal of NSIS from the police command would be like de-linking the police paramilitary wing, the General Service Unit (GSU), from the Commissioner’s command.

Intelligence arm

“Kenya police could be the only law maintenance force in the Commonwealth without an intelligence arm under its commissioner,” Mr Kiraithe told the Nation.

Top security officials are developing the Cabinet paper after meetings triggered by the bold report released on Wednesday last week.

The meetings, which began last Thursday, were aimed at countering what the NSIS presented to the Waki commission.

According to Mr Justice Philip Waki who chaired the commission, “of all the state security agencies, the NSIS was, it seems, with the possible exception of the military, best prepared.”

The report released says the police top brass was arrogant and disregarded intelligence reports, some made available long before the election.

It also showed that the force was unprepared for the chaos that erupted and spread across the country, with its officers deployed to quell it being overwhelmed.

“A question remains about the utility of some of the NSIS’s systems. Many at the provincial, district, and division level were emphatic that they did not know of the likely magnitude of the violence that ultimately ensued.

This seems strange since it is those very areas within which the NSIS operatives work and therefore where knowledge of the impending crisis should have originated,” reads part of the Waki report.

Nation called NSIS headquarters, but Maj-Gen Gichangi was said to be out of office. Senior police officers have been holding a series of meetings to discuss the report with the intention of exposing areas it overlooked.

A senior officer who did not wish to be quoted on “sensitive matters” said the Commission failed to note that police operations were hampered since late 1990s after NSIS was formed to replace the police intelligence arm Special Branch.

Reports from the meetings said officers agreed that a comparison of the police, NSIS and military budgets, should have been a major consideration before the commissioners could draw conclusions.

The NSIS gets its own budgetary allocation. For instance, it received Sh1.34 billion in April ahead of the budget while the police department received Sh6 billion meant for Provincial Administration and internal security.

The police argue that the NSIS with approximately 5,000 workforce could do more with the money. The Police Force has more than 40,000 officers. This includes GSU, CID and regular police while the Administration police has another 20,000.

NSIS is also accused of having provided police with reports that could not help quell violence of the magnitude witnessed after the December elections.

Senior police officers feel it’s unfortunate that the Waki Commission “largely relied on submissions” by NSIS boss to blame police for inadequacy.

In having the paper tabled in the Cabinet, police commissioner Hussein Ali, has the option of presenting it to the President, to whom he has direct access.

Combat equipment

He could also put it across through the Head of Civil Service and secretary to the Cabinet, Mr Francis Muthaura or present it to Internal Security minister George Saitoti.

Before the commission could make recommendations, senior police officers argued, it should have examined the facilities available to police at the time, including vehicles and combat equipment.

The senior officers also argued that the Commission did not consider the number of police officers available and ignored the force did not have helicopters like the military.

At one of the meetings, NSIS was accused of relaying intelligence reports to police that lacked in detail.

When Special Branch was a police arm, some intelligence officers were based at police stations and entered daily reports in an Occurrence Book.