Mr George Kinoti, who heads the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), once incredibly survived at least 28 bullets fired at him. But the way he shot himself in the foot during a recent press conference will leave him wounded for a long time, especially after President Uhuru Kenyatta publicly told him off.
This, after a tough-talking Mr Kinoti said he was reviving investigations into the 2007/2008 post-election violence and similar emerging threats. His lengthy “I was misunderstood” statement the following day after strong reaction was unconvincing.
It will be a low tide for the sleuth who took over office in January 2018 with gusto, making it look like there was clearly no place to hide for Kenya’s wayward and making his department win rare public trust for arresting big names and posting mugshots of suspects online.
But the DCI has also been accused of being a cog in partisan politics, a claim repeatedly denied. His lengthy rant before the cameras on Monday did little to clear that perception.
His speech was a ramble on many issues but dwelling on the burning of Kiambaa KAG church in graphic detail occupied a core part of it. A day later, Mr Kinoti would beat a hasty retreat, saying the DCI was only interested in new threats to the victims – who were props Mr Kinoti’s passionate performance after they were ferried from the Rift Valley to Nairobi.
But on Friday, the victims made Mr Kinoti’s bad week worse when they declared they had not reported any new threats – and there were none. Instead, they had been summoned from their homes, ferried to Nairobi and told to record statements about what happened 13 years ago before being driven back after the press conference. Indeed, some thought they were finally going to receive compensation.
That is an awkward situation for the crime buster who was a star wherever he has served -including Kisumu, Isebania, Busia, Migori and Busia – before he took up duties at the National Police Service headquarters and later at the helm of the DCI.
The question that will linger is: Under whose orders was he acting and how could such a momentous decision be announced without the President’s knowledge?
It will be interesting to know the intrigues going on behind the scenes after the President told off the DCI boss on Wednesday. Curiously, President Kenyatta said he read about Mr Kinoti’s move in the newspapers. He then went on to strongly condemn the “reopening of graves”.
“You don’t think before you talk, you don’t think before you act,” he said.
Mr Kinoti had justified his actions as a way of preventing future clashes, but the net result is a bruised ego for the former National Police Service spokesman who is a holder of a sociology degree from Egerton University, which he obtained in 1992, and a master’s in security studies from the same institution.
He is, however, not new to being in the line of fire. He said in a past interview that in May 2005 he was shot 28 times on Nairobi’s Jogoo Road as he tried to stop a robbery against a female motorist.
That sent him into a coma for days, but he survived the incident that saw bullets rip apart his stomach and shatter his leg.
It will be spectacular to see how Mr Kinoti, who once considered becoming a priest and who always carries a rosary with him, will come out of the saga.