The National Police Service Commission (NPSC) failed to replace Grace Kaindi as the Deputy Inspector- General (DIG) with a woman due to lack of senior female officers amid a political storm over the changes.
Interior secretary Joseph Nkaissery on Wednesday said that the appointment of General Service Unit (GSU) Commandant Joel Kitili to replace Ms Kaindi in an acting capacity is linked to the scarcity of women among the top brass.
This came as the Opposition accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of violating the Constitution in removing Ms Kaindi, arguing that he had no role to play in the removal of police chiefs.
The law requires that one of the three positions of the Inspector-General and the two deputies be of opposite gender.
Joseph Boinnet is the Inspector-General while his other deputy is Samuel Arachi, who is in charge of Administration Police (AP).
“As it stands now obviously, there is no very senior woman police officer and therefore that position cannot be left vacant,” Mr Nkaissery said.
NPSC chairman Johnstone Kavuludi said the commission has started the process of seeking Ms Kaindi’s replacement.
A police officer needs to have served for 15 years, hold a degree and be serving above the rank of superintendent to qualify as DIG. Several female officers are above this rank.
MPs John Mbadi (Suba), Jared Opiyo (Awendo), Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) and Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay) said Mr Kenyatta has no powers to trigger a vacancy in the office of the deputy inspector general.
“The purported replacement of Grace Kaindi and subsequent appointment as an ambassador is illegal, unprocedural and unconstitutional. The President has no role under the Constitution and the law in occasioning the removal of a deputy IG,” Mr Mbadi said.
He said section 20 of the National Police Service Act (NPSC) is clear on how an office holder for the position of IG and DIG falls vacant.
“The office falls vacant if the holder dies, resigns by notifying the President in writing or is removed in accordance with the Constitution and Section 17 of the NPSC Act,” he told journalists at Parliament Buildings on Wednesday evening.
Section 17 of the NPSC Act requires one seeking the removal of the DIG to petition the NPSC, which will investigate and recommend, through a two-thirds majority of commissioners, the removal of the holder.
The announcement of the changes were made on Tuesday evening by State House.
Mr Kavuludi on Wednesday said they recommended the changes on the advice of Mr Boinnet.
He reiterated that Ms Kaindi was not removed over alleged differences with the Interior Ministry officials but that she retired after attaining the mandatory age of 60.
Ms Kaindi had earlier contested NPSC’s directive for her to retire, forcing the commission to reverse the decision and ask her to continue serving until January 2018.