‘For man and country’

It is difficult to doubt George Kinoti’s intentions for his job. He believes in the complementarity of virtue: what one gives is what one gets. It makes life that much simpler to lead, he reasons. It is a philosophy that unravels when he gets to talking about his mandate, which he says, goes beyond the paper expectation – keeping the peace – which citizens have of police officers.

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By Kevin Motaroki

It is 12:13p.m. on Friday and Mohamed Roba, Kinoti’s suave Executive Advisor who has just ushered me in, tells me he was able to secure just 20 minutes (after a week of shifting schedules around) so could I please make the most of it? His boss would like him to sit in but he requests to go for alāt al-jumu’ah. We talked about his mission at the DCI and the institution’s role in the governance spectrum. He speaks reflectively, persuasively, authoritatively.

What is your mission?

My assignment is the promise I made when I was sworn in as a police officer, and my oath of office as Director of Criminal Investigations, which I sum up as ‘devotion to country and fidelity to the people and laws of Kenya’. I constantly ask myself, ‘am I working to fulfill the promises I made?’ If I can truthfully tell myself my oath is my honour, then I know I am on track.

How do you quantify this mission?

I look at my young children and wonder, when I am no longer a police officer and they have to face an uncertain world on their own, can they bank on the system for justice? If, at the end of my tenure, the answer to this question is ‘yes’, then I would have answered it for every other Kenyan as well. This also speaks to my philosophy on life and living.

What is this philosophy?

Growing up in a seminary, I watched their routine, absorbed their values and learnt the value of selfless service. I dreamt of becoming one as well, when I grew up. Through their Christian living, the priests taught me an enduring lesson, which became my philosophy as well – to do unto others what I would like done unto me.

What happened?

(Chuckles) Well, I did not become a priest. I studied Sociology and applied to be a police officer. In retrospect, it was a great choice.

The DCI is enjoying rare support. How important is public perception to you?

If Kenyans do not feel the impact of my work, then what am I doing? Of course, I worry about how people perceive me. If they think I am corrupt or that I kill for fun or to settle personal scores, there has to be a reason for it. I would like for (bad) perceptions about us to change, but genuinely and honestly.

Someone evaluating the police service should not need convincing about its work; he has to feel it. We have to work for it and I think it has to begin with how I govern myself and my officers.

Does the weight of your task scare you at all?

I do not consider it taxing in any way, because the mandate is crystal; it is as simple as doing what is expected of me. It is about the honour of being appointed to public office, to serve my countrymen. When the President says he has got our backs, it is code for ‘execute your mandates to the fullest extent, and let no one use my name to deter you’. Just like him, I have lost friends too, because I refuse to bend procedure or break the law for anyone.

We are witnessing a revolution in how we define public management and governance, and I am honoured to be right in the middle of its engineering. The architecture of the reforms I envision for the DCI and for the governance systems of our country is that they must inspire faith in our people about our systems; they must see the system to be working for, not against, them.

You are very intense…

Am I?

Yes. It is in your mannerisms…

It comes with the territory. Don’t let it bother you.

You were telling me about governing yourself…

The DCI is among institutions tasked with cementing the rule of law in this country. As the man in charge of it, I must govern and counsel myself, to set an example for my juniors to emulate. But that is just the beginning. Investigation is key to rule of law. My job is to probe, gather evidence and apprehend suspects. My goal is to give the DPP bullet-proof evidence; I wouldn’t like for him to have to refer a file back to me for want of evidence, or because it is shoddily compiled.”

Does he give you grief about your job?

Who, Noordin?…

To read the rest of this interview please get a copy of The Nairobi Law Monthly. Available in leading supermarkets and newspaper vendors near you. Or call 0715 061658 to make a director order. Delivery is free within the CBD and its environs.

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