Prisons Commissioner General Isaiah Osugo has made sweeping changes at the department by reshuffling 53 of his top officers in what he terms as ‘normal transfers’ although the Sunday Nation has established that this just the first phase of these reassignments.
A number of top officers have retired and it is understood Mr Osugo wants to rejuvenate the department which only started hiring new officers in 2015 after a six-year suspension due to lack of funds.
Among those transferred is Nairobi Regional Prisons Commander Wanini Kireri who has been moved from her base at the Industrial Area Prison to Magereza House at Upper Hill. She will be replaced by Rahab Thangate who is currently the Deputy Commandant of the Prisons Staff Training College (PSTC) in Ruiru.
Ms Wanini whose rank is Assistant Commissioner General of Prisons (ACGP) is the senior most woman in the department. The other officer of a similar rank is the Director of Prison Enterprises Josephat Ituka. Former ACGP David Macharia retired at the end of last year after attaining the age of 60
Mr Osugo who also clocked 60, which is the mandatory retirement age in government, in August 2016 was given a two-year extension which has been challenged in court by activist Okiya Omtatah. The case is still ongoing.
In the memo announcing the transfers signed by Mr Osugo’s deputy Benjamin Njoga seen by the Sunday Nation that is effective immediately, the commissioner general has replaced North Eastern Regional Commander Tawane Gudal with Eastern Regional Commander Gicheru Kamore.
Interestingly both Mr Osugo and Mr Gudal’s are subject to the same legal suit that is challenging their two-year term extensions.
Also moved in the sweeping changes include Senior Assistant Commissioner of Prisons Emase Okodoi, the officer in charge of Kakamega prison who has been promoted to acting Regional Commander for the Western Region. Assisting him will be Jonathan Koech who has been named as Deputy Commander for the region.
In exchange Fancis Kemei moves from Western Region to Nyanza where he will be Deputy Regional Commander.
Mr Osugo has termed the transfers as necessary.
“Most of the officers being moved have just been promoted so the change of station is important to enable them exchange their skills and experiences with other colleagues,” he said.
“Otherwise it is a normal public service transfer,” he said.
The Prisons Department has for the last two months been carrying out interviews and appraisals of its officers in conjunction with the Public Service Commission (PSC) which is routine before making any promotions.
This week it was the turn of Inspectors although their interviews are expected to continue the whole of next week to determine who gets the coveted title of Chief Inspector of Prisons. Officers from this rank and above qualify to be given a prison to manage.
PSC is in charge of promotion of all gazetted officers in the rank of Superintendent of Prisons and above while the rest are handled by the Prisons Department. The Commissioner General, however, has powers to transfer officers at will.
Other senior officers who have been moved are Henry Limaye from Kamiti Medium Prison who will now go to PSTC while Peter Kubende of Kerugoya Prison has been promoted to Eastern Regional Deputy Commander. Additionally Stephen Kiplagat has also been moved from Garrisa Main Prison to be the Deputy Regional Commander Central.
The Principal Secretary Correctional Services in the Ministry of Interior Micah Powon said the reassignments will allow the officers to work in stations that are in tandem with their new titles.