Omtatah wants court to suspend police reforms

Activist Okiya Omtatah has moved to court to suspend the implementation of the police reforms and changes announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday.

Omtatah wants the court to prohibit the Interior Cabinet secretary and the Attorney General from effecting reforms or changes pending the hearing and determination of his suit.

According to Omtatah, the changes, including changes in the structure and command of the National Police Service, the integration of Kenya Police Service and the Administration Police Service, the change of uniforms, the rebranding of colleges, and the introduction of housing allowances for junior officers is unconstitutional.

He says a taskforce report is yet to be subjected to public participation and parliamentary approval.

“There was no consultation and public participation giving Kenyans the opportunity to input their views on the proposal, including on the change of uniforms and police housing,” he says.

Omtatah argues that since the current police structure is based on the Constitution, it cannot be changed by any person or authority, however well meaning, without amending the Constitution.

“At best, the impugned changes are the President’s statement of intent or his proposal on policy framework on the restructuring of the command and functioning of the National Police Service which cannot be effected immediately irrespective of its merits or demerits,” he says in court documents.

According to him, both the President and the task force have no power under the Constitution to effect changes in the structure, command and functioning of the service.

“Only the Inspector General of the National Police Service has the power to do so, strictly in accord with the Constitution. And nobody, including the President and the task force, can direct the Inspector General on what to do,” he adds.

Omtatah further claims that changes in the National Police Service were sneaked into law, and were enacted through a process that blatantly violates the provisions of the Constitution.

On Thursday, Uhuru announced major changes in the police service that will include a merger of the Kenya Police and Administration Police.

In the new changes,  24,572 Administration Police Service officers will join 39,680 Kenya Police Service to form General Duty Police.

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