In Summary
  • DoD spokesman Bogita Ongeri has for the last two weeks told Sunday Nation that his bosses at the Ministry of Defence will “soon” hold a press conference to explain the mandate of the new Command, but this is yet to happen.
  • Lt-Gen Njoroge, an alumnus of the US Army War College, had in the 1980s recommended in an academic paper that the Kenyan police and the military should train together in order to handle situations in urban areas. But there was a caveat.

The creation of the Nairobi Metropolitan Command of the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) has raised fears that it could operate like the dreaded Black Mamba squad of the Ugandan military.

When he announced the formation of the new command early this month, President Kenyatta cited “the current threats in the country emerging from terrorism, drug trafficking, proliferation of small arms, and crime, among others, that tend to flourish in highly urbanised areas like Nairobi”.

However, it is not clear how the new command will work with various units of the National Police Service.

“Kenyans need to question the real responsibilities of this new command. It might end up being like the Black Mamba of Uganda,” said a source in Intelligence circles.

Without a clear-cut mandate, some top security officers, who spoke to the Sunday Nation on condition of anonymity, fear that the command could be fashioned to operate like the elite intelligence squad within the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) that gained notoriety for operating as a law unto itself and ignoring other security agencies.

In 2005, the team besieged the Ugandan High Court and captured five suspects facing treason charges.

Following the incident, the elite squad was disbanded after protests from lawyers and human rights activists. In September, sections of the Ugandan media reported there may be plans to reassemble the Black Mamba to protect the country from terrorist attacks similar to the one on Nairobi’s Westgate Mall. However, UPDF Spokesperson Lt-Colonel Paddy Ankunda dismissed this as speculation.

The Department of Defence (DoD) has been cagey about the actual terms of reference for the Nairobi Metropolitan Command.

DoD spokesman Bogita Ongeri has for the last two weeks told Sunday Nation that his bosses at the Ministry of Defence will “soon” hold a press conference to explain the mandate of the new Command, but this is yet to happen.

“My boss wants to have a small team of journalists to explain the mandate. I will get back to you with the details,” said Mr Ongeri in a telephone conversation on Wednesday. However, he had not contacted us by the time of going to press.

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