The Inspector General of Police has asked for explanations after he got a brief indicating that a Kenyan Police Airwing plane was not readily available to fly the GSU Recce Company on the morning of the day masked gun men stomped Garissa University College. In the wake of media reports on Saturday that Kenyan Police Airwing plane had been unavailable because it had been flown to Mombasa on an unofficial lease, carrying a handful of civilians from Mombasa to Nairobi.
The Nation on Sunday, contacted the IG, Mr Joseph Boinnet and he acknowledged the fact that the matter had been brought to his notice claiming that preliminary investigations revealed that the crew “were on an instruction flight”. However, he said that he had asked for the flight to be inquired upon.
Meanwhile, another ongoing investigation is underway and it is prying into all aspects of the Garissa terrorist attack that recorded a toll of 148 deaths of which all except six of them are students
According to Boinnet, the current on-going inquiry covers a wide range of ground affecting the Garissa attack and the aircraft situation was just one of the issues making up the entire investigation. He also made it clear that what he had immediately asked for was an only explanation following media reports on the aircraft, and never an investigation.
Additionally, the Nation has independently received information confirming that the police aircraft had unofficially flown relatives of the Airwing commandant and an unidentified businessman during the Garissa attack. And this implies that, the alleged delay had led to the hike in the number of dead students and would have been cut down had they arrived earlier than they did. Thus, the aircraft delayed the security response required at that moment, and would have made the attack which recorded a toll of 148 death controlled.
in the words of the police boss went
We do not allow unauthorised persons to use our aircraft. In case that happened, action will be taken,” the IG said.
More importantly, this was revealed just a day ahead of an investigation expected to be launched Monday into the controversial purchase of a helicopter rotor blades bought at what is believed to be an inflated cost of Sh42 million.
The alleged helicopter blades were delivered to the Airwing headquarters at Wilson Airport on Friday at 1am in a manner that raised concerns because of suspect documentation.
Based on what the Nation established relating to where the aircraft had been at the time of Garissa incident, the Police Cessna 208B aircraft registration number 5YPOL had flown from Wilson Airport on April 2 at around 7.30am and arrived in Mombasa at around 9.30am.
The crew including the current acting Senior Superitendent James Kabo and an Inspector Mutai had received an instruction from the Kenya Police Airwing commandant, Mr Rogers Mbithi, to fly his daughter-in-law and her child all the way from Mombasa.
Mr Boinnet had been immediately received a brief about the unauthorized movement of the flight, however, it was not until Saturday that he demanded for a detailed explanation in respect of the movement of the aircraft.
As a result, a brief was prepared in which Mr Mbithi claimed that the woman involved was his daughter-in-law but did not reveal who the businessman was.
According to Authorisation Sheet, it was revealed that the aircraft left Mombasa at 9.35am, arriving at Wilson at 11.35am and thus, reveals the flight was off unofficially for two days.
Thereafter, the aircraft was flown to Garissa at 12.30pm, with one team of Recce Company officers, about seven minutes after the first aircraft, registration number 5Y-GSU had moved with the first batch. It landed at Garissa at 1.55pm and 10 minutes later left on the return flight to Nairobi, arriving at 3.30pm.
It again left Nairobi at 3.45pm for Garissa, arriving at 5.15pm for an overnight stay. The following day, it left Garissa at 10.40am and landed at the Wilson Airport at noon.
According to sources, the inability to decide who controls what in this country and also non-transparent manner in which the unit is manned has affected its operations badly. Investigations disclosed that the recent fights centres on procurement of aircraft parts, maintenance and the training of pilots.
Read Also: Kenyan University Under Attack
Sources have also revealed to the Nation that sober investigations is yet to start on corrupt deals at the unit and allegations that the aircraft are used in training civilians, quite opposite to the regulations binding the use of the aircraft.
As a reminder, the same officer who allegedly flew the aircraft to Mombasa last week was mentioned in a report filed in August 2013 which claimed that he took two police pilots to Mombasa for their final training before they received the licenses. But, they had to come back to the unit amid claims that the aircraft was being used for unofficial training of civilian trainee pilots.
Going further, the blades that was brought to the airport on Friday night were purchased following another set bought last year that only performed for two hours.
The unit purchased a main rotor system from suppliers in Ukraine at a cost of Sh13 million that had only two flight hours left before expiry. After the system five blades for the MI-17 helicopter registration 5Y-EDM expired, the helicopter was grounded.
The matter was under investigation but the results were not made public for now according to an official from the Ministry of the Interior.
Another police source disclosed that new rotor blades for an MI-17 were bought and delivered on Friday but with no proper documentation. Some of the papers disclosed that they were shipped in from Poland, though the country does not have any plants inventing the blades. However, a senior government official explicitly raised concerns over the quality of the blades on Saturday.
Although the actual amount spent to purchase them was uncertain, office of the President allegedly paid Sh42 million for the blades, other documents showed that they could have cost only Sh9 million.
The officer who cleared the blades from the airport has insisted that there were no documents but the supplier had been reached to send them down next week. We only hope the true cost will be made public. Anyway the big question now is, why should government aircraft be used privately? They are supposed to be for public interest and not for personal interest. Perhaps the toll of death could have been reduced had they gotten to Garrisssa on time. Of course they delayed the security response needed only if this is true, but for now lets hope the outcome of the investigation comes out genuine. Until then, I hope government property is not becoming private property.
Source: Daily Nation