NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5- Police now say that organised gangs within the University of Nairobi are to blame for the violence witnessed after a disputed SONU election that saw Babu Owino re-elected as chairman.
Nairobi Police Chief Japheth Koome says several students who were found with weapons such as machetes and knives have been arrested and will be prosecuted.
One of the students was arrested on Monday when his vehicle was found with numerous weapons which he was trying to sneak into one of the hostels.
“Our work is to ensure law and order is maintained… we had information that some of the students were armed with crude weapons,” he stated.
The vehicle is currently at Parklands Police Station as police carry on with investigations.
Koome said the aim of the probe is to address the causes of such gangs and root out those behind them.
Contestants are often linked to goons during elections that they use to either intimidate their competitors or use them for protection.
Innocent students are always the victims of the atrocities caused by these gangs, who police say, are also used to coerce them into supporting their leaders.
“It is a serious matter currently being dealt with at a higher level,” Koome said. “I am aware that something is happening in regards to that.”
Koome revealed this during a briefing at his office on Tuesday during which he also assured that they are investigating the authenticity of a video clip circulating on social media, showing GSU officers battering university students with clubs, following claims it was shot in 2008.
In the video, the students are seen lying on the ground being battered by several GSU officers.
The protests turned violent Monday after a group of students opposed to the re-election of Babu Owino as SONU chairman started stoning motorists around the university after torching the union leaders’ offices.
“The media was there during the protest. Who would attempt that (police viciousness) in our current Kenya? ” Koome wondered.
“Someone is out there to discourage my officers so that they relent on their efforts and let the goons get to CBD and cause chaos. We will not allow that to happen.”
He said the officers were only involved in restoring law and order following the violent protest that ensued immediately after the students torched the union leaders’ offices.
“Nairobi is a regional hub. Why would allow a student who is in the university to hurt his colleague. We will not allow that,” he cautioned.
Police have been engaging the aggrieved students since Sunday following the elections that some claim were marred by irregularities.
Owino however maintains that he won fairly and there was no foul play.
“Mike (Jacob) was not even initially in the race for the chairmanship. He came only three weeks to the elections. Mike never even campaigned in any campus apart from main campus where he won with a very slight margin of votes,” he stated.
Those against Owino’s re-election claim that the election was marred by malpractices with some accusing Owino of deploying dictatorial tendencies to remain at the helm.
By Joseph Muraya