The police must apply the law uniformly to all

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NGUNJIRI WAMBUGU

Over the weekend I heard a news item that quoted Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Owino telling politicians not to inciting Kenyans against other leaders. He specifically pointed out a certain constituency where some leaders are reported to be telling Kenyans that a departed leader was killed by some forces, and suggesting that Kenyans in that constituency must not support politicians associated with parties belonging to these forces.

It is not hard to decipher what Owino is speaking about.

We have three parliamentary by-elections coming up in a few days. Two of those by-elections were occasioned by the deaths of Hon George Saitoti and Hon Orwa Ojode, the Minister and Assistant Minister of Internal Security respectively. The third one is because of the death of Hon John Michuki, also a former Minister. Hon Michuki died due to illness, which means there are no tongues wagging about ‘someone’ killing him. However Saitoti and Ojode died after a helicopter crash that is currently being investigated, so their by-elections are the ones where such a statement would apply.

An inquest into the deaths of the two internal security bosses is being covered blow-by-blow in the press. Unfortunately, Kenyans being who they are there are people who are picking whatever information is coming forth and manipulating it to their political benefit. The extremely competitive by-elections going on in the two leader’s former constituencies make for a suitable environment for such ‘interpretation’ to get public tractions, thus coming to the attention of the police.

Attempts to twist the deaths of Saitoti and Ojode, and cast their opponents as the ones behind such deaths, are an example of how low Kenya’s politics has fallen. The logic behind anyone pointing fingers at competitors as being behind the death of, for example, Hon George Saitoti, is so as to suggest parties associated with those alleged to be behind his death should not be allowed to gain from this action.

It is a terribly immoral political strategy that is unfortunately highly effective. However it is also extremely polarizing and anyone behind such schemes is guilty of dividing Kenyans and inciting them against each other. I therefore completely support the Deputy Police Spokesman’s position.

However I am concerned why the police are speaking now, and only about this case of leaders inciting Kenyans against other leaders. I would like to point out two other prominent cases the police have been noticeably quiet about.

In the last two to three years Kenyans have been grappling with the ICC situation that has seen four Kenyans get their cases confirmed by the international court. The process that got us here started with a call for a local solution, which Parliament by a majority, rejected. However since the names of suspects were unveiled we have had several of MPs mislead Kenyans and incite us, against one of the principals of the coalition government. Several MPs from Rift Valley and Central Kenya regions, with a few others from other regions of Kenya have decided to try make the ICC case a general election agenda.

These MPs are telling Kenyans that this co-principal manipulated the ICC to have his competition in the court. They are insisting that such person is not suitable to lead and asking those from their communities, and other Kenyans, to shun him. They have even been associated with musicians who have produced songs that are in court as hate speech, against this co-principal. The police have been mum. They have not spoken against what are deliberately distorted statements by national leaders about other leaders, that are blatantly false and polarizing; and that are meant to directly incite some Kenyans, against other Kenyans.

The second case is about the Mau evictions. This happened after a Cabinet decision which not a single minister disowned. It also happened after a parliamentary debate which not a single MP has so far referred to. However some MPs have chosen to directly incite Kenyans against the same co-principal again, by lying that the Mau evictions were done on his instructions. Some national leaders especially from Rift Valley have decided to make this distorted narrative, a political issue. Again, the police have been noticeably quiet. They have not spoken against these leaders who are deliberately misrepresenting a government decision, to directly incite some Kenyans, against other Kenyans.

Which leads to several interesting questions.

Since no one should incite Kenyans against other Kenyans, especially for political purposes, why are the police more interested with some cases, and not others? What is so different about these particular allegations about ‘someone killing someone else’? Could it be because the allegations affect a different national leader? Does this imply that it is okay to incite Kenyans against one (more senior) politician, but not his junior?

The police must realise Kenyans are watching them carefully. The positions they take must be consistent, if they are to be credible.

(Wambugu is the Executive Director of Change Associates Trust).

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  • frank

    i think in all fairness you seem to be siding with one side here.Freedom of speech is guaranteed in the constitution and those aggrieved by accusations can always seek redress in court.As for the police i believe they are sharp enough to know Kenyans aren’t fools and can tell the truth from lies.Lets be neutral while addressing national political agenda.

  • Sam

    @frank Ofcourse, he’s always biased.

  • Good observation and a enticing narration, but i think you should also be careful not to incite Kenyans against the police. It is known that there is the NCIC which is mandated with the responsibility to deal with incitement and hate speech mongers. Remember it started the same way before the 2007 general elections and later the pev rumours of rigging, manipulation of the police, unreliable courts, and no ….no……..peace. when one principals in the coalition government said there are people supposed to be in Kamiti instead of going around the country in the name of prayer rallies, what did you make out of that, or u cant hear that. Yes i agree with you Kenyans are watching

  • Mr. Wambugu may be like your pay master you think Kenyans are stupid. They are not! Where your loyalty lays is where the Kenyan problem emanates from. There is no doubt about it at all. Why? Thats because your favorite presidential candidate is actually armed with alot of nothing, apart from abscenities and one hell of blaming. Infact, am beginning to suspect that the bug has caught up with you!

    Our police officers have been through hell since your preferred candidate incited public against them during the launch of the new the constitution. Am sure you noticed that he was the only leader to tell the police to lay off their hands from the public. Within no time, officers in his slum constituency were attacked by the same public. A few days later, a traffic officer was pinned down and assaulted by a driver inspired by your wonderful leader! Your wonderful leader never even attempted to qualify his pronouncements. That he had eroded police authority in the eyes of the public is not in doubt. I dont even need to add that, Gen. Ali was his punchimg bag! His being carted away to the Hague had nothing to do with PEV but because of twisted hate propaganda spewed against him by your favorite boy.

    Our police officers have definitely learned from these instances. They know guys use propaganda to tie hands of police officers and then scream inaction! Its totally unacceptable and unbecoming of any leader. They have to given clear instructions that are not ambigious. Either they be told to shoot to kill any inciters defying orders, or guys like you Wambugu should go down to Tana Delta to hold brief for them. There are no two ways about it!

    When the terror suspect Aboud Rogo was killed, violence errupted in Mombasa. Policemen were killed. However, the fellows calling themselves civil society hardly said a word about the murdered officers. Perhaps, the officers didnt have rights as far as these fellows are concerned. The civil society only go for easy targets and thats the police officers. Of course, it makes an easy good case when you thoughtlessly accuse armed institution of “extra-judicial” killings!

    However, proper investigations reveal not only empty accusations, but also unbelievable ignorance. As with case of Rogo fellow, he was killed near a police station. Police took about 5 minutes to get to the scene. But were probaly able to see the place right from their gate. Nonetheless, when they arrived there, perhaps to give false trail, Rogo’s friends, who apparently were already at the crime scene, (in less than 5 minutes and they dont even live anywhere near there!) accused the police of murder! They even refused to allow police do their work.

    Then they took the dead body straight to the cementry, perhaps to make sure that the guy had no chance of of survival. They buried him without confirmation of his death by a doctor! To inextricably cloud everything, riots were instigated. But still all these chain of events didnt prevent our “human rights” organizations from accusing the police! If these organization were truly interested in human rights, they would have by now called for the arrest of Rogo’s wife and those who prevented the police from doing their work. They would also be fighting for the dead officers and asking for proper probe on why goons were allowed to bury somebody who might not have been dead.

    The culture of only blaming while never ever offering solutions to problems is what ails us. Your preferred guys have been on that streak for far too long. They are ever ready to inflame fires or start them. But they have no ideas on how to put out such fires. This has continued for close to 20 years now. Am sure you saw them in Kajiado North accusing others of grabbing Maasai land. Of course, the laws and pocedures of the country cant perrmit anyone to grab any land at all. Kenyans need to ask themselves if in the village, where in some areas there are no titles, no one can grab land, how would it be possible to grab land in a city? Someone is lying! And tell us what would stop communities rising against one another if a senior leader tells them that their land has been taken away by others? What purpose are such pronouncements meant to serve?

    • I beg to differ with respect to Aboud Rogo’s death. Islamic burial rites, unlike other religion or traditions dictate that burial should be done as soon as possible. Also, much as we may not like it, fact is Aboud Rogo as a Muslim cleric, did have many followers/sympathizers in Mombasa so it is not unusual for his followers (or friends as you say) to be near the scene of the killing. In addition to the fact that he had been perpetually hounded by the authorities, one cannot therefore blame his family, who did witness the killing, to point accusing fingers at these same authorities. It just happens to be that the police is the face of the authorities to the common mwana inchi.

      Of course you and I know it is highly implausible that such a high profile crime can occur opposite a police station and the perpetrators disappear without a trace. So we are left with two plausible conclusions; either we have the most incompetent security apparatus or there was complicity.

      • @Mwaisaka Wangai: Perhaps you dont know what you are saying. Before you comment you must understand the circumstances and location of death. Being a cleric doesnt mean you move around with hordes of fellows. First, the guy was killed in place where there are no residential areas. Just opposite Whitesands Hotel. Its not possible therefore to have been with his friends. It was clearly stated that they came after incednt. And not only that, the Rogo was traveling with his family to avoid being hit, as we were told by those in the car. Assuming indeed he was with his friends as you claim, they would surely be knowing registration numbers of the verhicle that carried the hitmen.

        You are therefore creating a scenario which was not there to justify your accusation against the police. Why is it that no single person in Rogo’s vehicle was able to take registration numbers of the killer car? And they all stated that they knew they were being followed by strange cars? Was it a deliberate action not to take vehicle numbers that was being ridden by the killers? Was their hostility towards the police really genuine or mere cover for their crimes?

        You are also being very naive if you believe police can shoot someone at their gates. The possible scenario is that Rogo’s friends killed him at the gates to incriminate the the police. That there were no attempts to take him to hospital point to a very sinister motive indeed. Infact, the investigating officer should arrest Rogo’s wife and all the other lot that was in the vehicle. Why they started pointing fingers instead of taking the fellow to hospital? You cant take unconfirmed dead person for burial and moreso, when crime is involved. He has to be pronounced dead by a doctor. But you know when you suspect that he might have seen you and could be revived at the hospital, you create hostile situation, hasty burial. This is in order to avoid any chances of him waking up and saying who shot him.

        • Sorry for the late reply, but for what its worth let me just recant a few points. I did not say the late cleric moved around with ‘hordes of fellows’ its just that he was popular in Mombasa. In this day and age its not unusual for information to spread like wildfire in minutes. Also, I am not trying to create any scenario and am afraid you may be the one who doesn’t know what you’re saying since as a resident of Mombasa I have a good idea of what I am talking about. And naive I am not, not even to the extent of believing that our authorities are as clean as a whistle as you maybe inferring. Please note also, I did NOT say the police shot the cleric – Why did you jump to that conclusion?

          With the benefit of hindsight, it is very easy to say that, after the vehicle you’re travelling in has been shot at by ‘hitmen’ and one of your kin dead/dying in a pool of blood, first thing you would do is to get a pen & piece of paper and calmly jot down the registration no. of a … SPEEDING ‘killer car’? Does that sound plausible to you?

          Am afraid the late cleric joins a long list IMHO of assassinations in this country where ppl may never know the truth.

  • Ralp

    Wambugu is just saying what Raila told him to write. Pity…….

  • kedgimibadhi

    Let us respect the rule of law and justice. It is the starting point for realising a fair and democratic system that treats both the poorest and the richest equally. It is the common ground. Also let us not blame the people who constitutionally do not have control at all over the police force. It is a misdirected anger. I do not know how one feels when he/she is scrambling to be a leader while at the same time not respecting the rule of law. To me that implies chasing personal interest at the expense of the people.

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