NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 2 – The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has launched investigations into the killing of two civilians in Kisumu on Saturday.
The two were shot as protests erupted over a Supreme Court ruling that upheld the declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as president-elect and dismissed a petition filed by his closest contender, Raila Odinga.
“In line with its statutory mandate under Section 7 of the Independent Policing Oversight Authority Act, IPOA will investigate the circumstances that resulted in the killing of two civilians in Kisumu during riots that rocked parts of the town last Saturday to establish whether lethal force was used lawfully in quelling the violence,” a statement sent to Capital FM News on Tuesday by IPOA Chairman Macharia Njeru read.
As part of their investigations, Njeru says they have asked the Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo to provide them with a report on the circumstances surrounding the killings.
“IPOA has already requested for formal reports from the Inspector General of Police and will study them in addition to independently probing the incident.”
The authority says it will also investigate how other cases of violence in the country were handled as unrest was also reported in Kibera, Mathare, Dandora and parts of Kawangware.
“The investigation will extend to other parts of the country that are reported to have experienced lawlessness after the Supreme Court ruling and ensuing security operations in affected areas,” Njeru said in his statement.
Nyanza police chief Joseph ole Tito is however adamant that his officers acted within the law and were forced to use live ammunition when darkness fell and armed robbers took advantage of the protests.
“Police have procedures and these procedures are very clear in the Acts and they are also very clear in the riot manual as to when a police officer is expected to use live ammunition.
“The police restrained themselves even as stones were hurled at them but when night time came and looters started cutting up (sic) shop owners we said enough is enough.”
Tito however regretted the injury of a woman by a stray bullet as she walked home as the police shot in the air to disperse protestors. “What this lady confirmed to us is that it was as if the bullet was not totally meant for her – this was a ricochet. That was why she was hit at low voltage; if that wasn’t the case, we’d be discussing another story.”
IPOA launched its investigation as the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) Executive Director Peter Kiama announced that they too are carrying out an independent probe into the shootings.
“The police cannot investigate themselves and we need to determine if they were justified in using live ammunition and if there was truly no other alternative to the action.”
The Kenya Red Cross puts the figure of those wounded by bullets in Odinga’s stronghold of Kisumu on Saturday at 23 but Tito insists that the actual number is half that.
Police actions surrounding the March 4 General Election have been under intense scrutiny given the post-election violence (PEV) that erupted in 2008. The police were accused of being partial in the lead up to the 2007 General Election and for using excessive force to quell unrest thereafter.