NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has hit out at officials in the Ministry of Lands, the National Land Commission and the police following a teargas assault on pupils at the Lang’ata Road Primary School over a disputed piece of land.
Also in the firing line was the headmaster of the school for allowing the pupils to participate in the protest and demolish a perimeter wall around the contentious plot of land.
“The headmaster should also answer a couple of questions. How to you allow your students to go and demolish walls… what if that wall fell on those children?” President Kenyatta posed.
He made it clear that government officials must take responsibility for their actions.
“It is deplorable the manner in which the police handled those young children and indeed action will be taken against the officers responsible. But what is more disappointing to me is the fact that we even had to get to that level. Where was the Ministry of Lands… where was the National Land Commission? Why did they not resolve this problem; what were they doing?”
He said the issue had been in the public domain since last year and wondered why it took until Monday for officials to come out strongly to declare that the land belonged to the school.
The President was at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre for the launch of the Kenya Foreign Policy and the Kenya Diaspora Policy but said he felt compelled to speak on what he described as a despicable incident.
He said while action will be taken against the police who tear-gassed protesting pupils, Ministry of Lands officials and those of the National Land Commission will also not be spared.
“We will begin to take action against Government officials who fail in their mandates,” President Kenyatta said as he regretted the presence of pupils in the demonstrations.
“How could he (the head teacher) allow young children under his care to behave the way they did? Even when we want to protest, we must do it in a civilized manner and not involve children.”
The Head of State emphasized that Government officials must take their duties seriously.
Acting Inspector General of Police Samuel Arachi has since suspended the officer in charge of Monday’s operation at Lang’ata Road Primary School, where police officers used tear gas to disperse pupils.
He explained that the officer was suspended to pave way for further investigations over the incident.
Arachi also summoned all commanders in charge of the operation to provide an elaborate report on the confrontation, which was widely condemned by among other institutions, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority and the Law Society of Kenya are also investigating the incident in a bid to prosecute those found culpable.