‘Sack Kimaiyo’ calls get louder after affront to Dr. Paula Kahumbu


(Posted 13th August 2014)

The Kenyan government has yesterday shown its true colours about its commitment to fight poaching and bring the kingpins of the trade to book, when the Inspector General of Police, one David Kimaiyo, kept conservation celebrity Dr. Paula Kahumbu waiting for 8 ½ hours before accepting a petition signed by over 400 prominent Kenyans.

In what was widely publicized in Kenya had Dr. Paula planned to hand over her petition to urge government to effect an arrest of an ivory kingpin in whose premises tons of ivory were confiscated some months ago but who still remains a free man.

The proverbial twitter ‘S***storm’ broke out when Paula tweeted that she had been there for several hours with the IGP not finding it important enough to receive her, and subsequent tweets were flying around, including copying the country’s President, Vice President and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, a hitherto close ally to Dr. Paula after sharing several high profile anti-poaching platforms together.

While there are suggestions that State House in Nairobi, when becoming aware of the public relations disaster in the making, intervened and had Kimaiyo finally open his doors to Dr. Paula, it nevertheless took 8 ½ hours to accomplish this, that information could not be independently confirmed.

The general reaction however is that this sort of behaviour is a disgrace in this day and age, a sign of sheer contempt and another nail in the coffin of Kimaiyo’s already battered reputation. ‘The man is a peacock and a buffoon all wrapped in one, and then add incompetent and arrogant to that’ ranted a regular conservation source from Nairobi as this saga unfolded yesterday before adding ‘This exposes the root problems we have, if top officials of this government treat the anti poaching campaign with such disregard and have nothing to say but utter a few meaningless words, our wildlife will be doomed. Apart from lipservice this government has done very little to show commitment to stamp out the illegal ivory trade. They may have escaped sanctions by CITES and got somehow off that list of shame, but here on the ground we lack action, resources and political will. Of course people unable to manage the security of our country are not capable to manage the security of our elephants’.

Said Paula in a Facebook update to thousands of her followers:

Start quote:

We spent 8.5 hours in a waiting room at the Chief of Polices office, Inspector General Kimaiyo. When he finally met us we got a very few minutes of his time and I was able to give him the letter signed by 400 people offering to help ‪#‎CatchFeizal. Feizal Ali Mohamed is a suspected notorious ivory trafficker who is wanted in association with an ivory bust of 2.1 tons representing over 120 elephants on June 5th. He has avoided arrest since June 11th when a warrant for his arrest was issued. Kimaiyo says the police are doing all that they can do and that they are concerned, but given that they have been unable to arrest Feizal in 2 months, we have offered to assist with runNing WANTED adverts in newspapers plus raising funds for a reward for information leading to his arrest. Mr Kimaiyo did not respond to our offer. We gave him two posters – one celebrating Tim, and another about the ivory trade. Despite the gifts, he did not smile or look happy at all. Nor did he make any promises or commitments to arrest Feizal. Sadly, I cannot say that this is the response I expected – nevertheless we did what we set out to do on World Elephant Day. I hope our persistence, honesty and integrity softens Mr. Kimaiyo’s heart and that he will invite us back for a proper conversation. He holds the key to the safety of elephants in Kenya. Thank you Elizabeth Gitari, Njambi LionLady Maingi, Bertha Kang’ong’oi and Bernie for your huge support during that long wait.

End quote

(Dr. Paula Kahumbu, after 8.5 hours, being finally able to hand over her petition to an unsmiling IGP in Nairobi)

(How a leading Kenyan cartoonist sees the IGP after one of his now legendary gaffes)

The various social media pages on Facebook were showing overwhelming support to Dr. Paula and her cause while unequivocally condemning the mistreatment dished out by the Inspector General of Police in Nairobi and no doubt will this episode reflect badly in coming days and weeks on the government of President Kenyatta at large, as one other source did suggest ‘… either Uhuru has not got a handle on them or more likely they have a strange hold over him. In any civilized society such incidents would have immediate consequences, and if there are none, it tells the story how civilized we are in Kenya. This rests as squarely with the president himself as with that Kimaiyo character’.

Yet another said ‘We need to launch a petition to have Kimaiyo sacked, it is long overdue, his failures are too many and his treatment of Paula is simply unacceptable. He is a liability now and just has to go’. Utumishi Kwa Wote indeed, as the motto of the Kenya Police goes.

Visit www.wildlifedirect.org for more information on the conservation work Dr. Paula and her team does and how you can support that noble cause to ensure the survival of the African elephants.

And in a breaking news development has Dr. Kahumbu just added another post on her FB page which is a must share:

World Elephant Day was celebrated around the world yesterday with pageantry, music, song and dance, events and activities and everyone is wearing “grey”. My day could hardly be described as “fun”. Sat for nearly 9 hours with my team in a government waiting room at the office of the Chief of Police to deliver a letter. Inspector General David Kimaiyo had granted me an appointment at 7 am in the morning and I left home at 5.30am to be there on time. This was no ordinary letter, this was an offer to raise funds to help in the arrest of suspected ivory kingpin, Feizal Ali Mohamed who has been a fugitive since June 11th. The Warrant for his arrest was issued in a Mombasa court in relation to his involvement in a massive 2.1 ton seizure of ivory on 5th of June. Hungry and cold but every hour that passed in that chilly room made me more determined. I bore the responsibility of delivering on a promise I’d made to 400 people who co-signed the letter.

Clearly David Kimaiyo was not happy about seeing me. After eight and a half hours of waiting, the brusque Inspector General, greeted me by saying that he could not meet me after all since he was rushing to a press conference and was already late. He invited us to wait for for yet another hour while he went for that meeting. We politely declined, instead, and in the space of about three minutes I handed him the letter and explained why this meeting was so important. Kimaiyo did not have time to listen, glanced at the letter and assured me that nobody was more concerned about the poaching situation than the police. He said they were doing everything possible to protect them.

I had to stop him mid-sentence to tell him that we were not there to talk about the poaching, we were there to talk about Feizal Ali Mohamed a notorious suspected ivory trafficker. I reminded him that Kenya holds the dubious position of being number 1 in the world for transiting of ivory. In one long breath I told him that this represents corruption, organized crime and transnational crimes which is all threatening our national security.

Mr Kimaiyo stared at me with a confused expression, this conversation was clearly not what he was expecting. After a moment he simply said “Goodbye”, turned and walked to the door.

For a moment I stood there confused that our offer to help him the police crack down on organized crime had landed on deaf ears. Just days earlier on the phone, Mr Kimaiyo said he was very happy about this offer to run WANTED advertisements in the media plus raise funds for a reward to catch Feizal. The person that I met, cold, harsh and disrespectful, did not match the image I had formed during the phone conversation a few days earlier.

I left the police headquarters shaking my head. Words fail me, and I’m not proud of the emotions that were coursing through my mind. Hundreds of responses on my Facebook time line and on twitter reflected the anger and disappointment from my fellow Kenyans, especially those who had signed the letter.

Many people said I was wasting my time trying to get support from Kimaiyo, but regardless of his personal views of me or our HANDS OFF OUR ELEPHANTS campaign, we cannot give up on him. The Inspector General of the Police in Kenya is now in charge of all wildlife security and therefore holds the key to the future of Kenya’s elephants. That Feizal is still a fugitive two months after a warrant for his arrest was issued is ultimately Kimaiyos’ responsibility, and we must therefore hold him to account.

My personal feelings aside, I have to keep reminding myself that this is not just about elephants, ivory trafficking is a serious international crime and it involves organized criminal cartels. It threaten Kenya’s economy, security and future aspirations. It is every Kenyans business.

Upsetting as the day was I refuse to be browbeaten and believe that our persistence, honesty and integrity will soften Mr. Kimaiyo’s heart. Next time I hope to be reporting on the outcome of a polite invitation for a proper conversation about how the citizens of Kenya can help save our heritage and one of the worlds most magnificent species. Elephants represent more than our economy, or even our environment. Elephants are central to the identity of Kenyans. The slaughter of elephants to supply a trade in trinkets to people half a world away speaks volumes about our willingness to protect that which is precious to us.

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3 Responses

  1. In other words, IGP Kimaiyo has been warned off trying to capture Feizel Ali Mohamed because if his efforts in tracking him down and arresting him are successful, no doubt Mr Mohamed will not hesitate in incriminating other high-ups in the current administration who, as with everything, are likely benefiting hugely from the poaching industry themselves. It will only take one person who isn’t afraid to name names, for the whole shoddy house of cards to come tumbling down.

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