Kenya Prisons purge: More bosses shuffled

Zeinab Hussein and John Kibaso Warioba

Outgoing Correctional Services Principal Secretary Zeinab Hussein and Commissioner-General of Prisons Brigadier (Rtd) John Kibaso Warioba at Magereza prisons headquarters in Nairobi on November 17, 2021. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Principal Secretary Zainab Hussein moved to Tourism docket in the same capacity.
  • Changes come barely a month after Prisons boss Wycliffe Ogallo was hounded out of office.

The purge at the Kenya Prisons Service has been taken a notch higher after President Uhuru Kenyatta effected more changes at the Department of Correctional Facilities.

Keen on cleaning the tainted image of the Kenya Prisons Service, whose underbelly was exposed by the escape of three terror suspects last month, the President has now transferred Principal Secretary Zeinab Hussein.

The PS, whose tenure was characterised by never-ending wars with former Commissioner General Wycliffe Ogallo, is set to move to the Tourism ministry in the same capacity.

Moving in the opposite direction is PS Safina Kwekwe. Nairobi Metropolitan Services Deputy Director General Kangethe Thuku will be the new Principal Administrative Secretary for Correctional Facilities.

The two are expected to help streamline operations and repair the damaged ties between the civilian wing of the service and uniformed officers.

"...prepare comprehensive handover notes to facilitate a smooth handover to the incoming Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe," says a letter by the Head of Civil Service sent to Ms Hussein on December 4. 

"Please, note that your handover notes should lay emphasis on work plans in progress, status of the priority national development projects under the medium-term plan 3 and the Big Four agenda." 

The changes come barely a month after Mr Ogallo was hounded out of office in controversial circumstances for what was described as mishandling of the escape of three terror suspects from Kamiti Maximum Prison.

Interestingly Ms Hussein played a part in the chaos that were witnessed on the day Mr Ogallo was kicked out of Magereza House in front of media cameras by armed policemen after retired Brigadier Francis Warioba took over.

With both Ms Hussein and Mr Ogallo out of the way, the new leadership has its work cut out.

Brig Warioba has already hit the ground running, making major changes in the top leadership of Kenya Prisons.

In the changes, Assistant Commissioner General Nicholas Maswai has been moved from Magereza House and is now the regional commander, Eastern. Moving in the opposite direction is Dickson Mwakazi who has been brought back to the headquarters. Mr Mwakazi will be the director, Legal.

Also moved from Magereza House is Patrick Arandu who has replaced James Too as the regional commander, Central. Mr Too, an assistant commissioner general by rank, is now the director of logistics at the headquarters.

Insiders say Brig Warioba, who has spent the last few weeks visiting various prisons to understand the situation on the ground, is expected to make more changes in the coming days to consolidate his leadership.

The real test, however, will be on how the former Kenya Defence Forces soldier will create a good working relationship with the commanders under him and the civilian leadership domiciled at Teleposta Towers, led by the new Principal Secretary.

Constant infighting between Mr Ogallo and Ms Hussein had made it almost impossible to implement changes, thus stalling several projects. Key among the issues yet to be resolved because of the feud is the promotion of 4,500 uniformed officers that has stagnated for over six years.  

The Treasury had allocated Sh295 million for the programme. In one of her letters to Mr Ogallo, Ms Hussein said “the department had “focused on clearing pending bills due to pressure on reduced budget allocations.”