18th April 2012 was the fateful date, when once again various constitutional clauses of the Kenyan constitution failed to get proper interpretation. This time the misinterpretation was made public and guess who the culprit was, the National Police Service of course. The setting was Jumuia Conference Centre, Limuru the venue that had been slated for an anti-tribal meeting that has come to be popularly referred to as ‘Limuru 2B’ . It was during the morning hours and all sorts of police blockades had already been placed at all the three entries to the premises. One could imagine that the venue was probably the most secure place in Kenya to be at that time, of course after State House.
In the spirit of our ‘operative‘ constitution which guarantees freedom of association and assembly, Kenyans sought to assemble here despite the cancellation of the meeting by the relevant security chief within the locality. The cancellation notice came on the eve of the D-day citing ‘security threats’. Today is the 14/05/2012 and I am still anxiously waiting for the police to give sufficient details on the alleged security threats. Whether it was a hoax to manage the situation or an effort to safeguard the security of Kenyans is a question whose answer the police can answer best. The timing of the alleged security situation is what interests me most. Why were the threats staged at that particular point in time when the GEMA and KAMATUSA meetings were gaining nationwide criticism? Why didn’t they surface during the (in)famous ‘prayer rallies ‘? Mmmh! I am reminded that those were prayer rallies and there is no way evil spirits can be tolerated in prayer zones.
Poor Kenyans who turned up for the meeting didn’t have a hint of what was in store for them until the police opened fire, lobbing teargas canisters at the unsuspecting lot. If the video clips aired in on our local media are anything to go by, then, as a Kenyan who voted in the new constitution, I feel shortchanged after reading Article 29(c): ‘every person has the right to freedom and security of the person which includes the right not to be subjected to torture in any manner, whether physical or psychological’.
With clubs and all sorts of ‘disciplinary objects’ used by the police on innocent Kenyans, the Prof. Ekuro Okot led team , which is credited as the brain behind the drafting of our current constitution must have felt mocked since it didn’t envisage such brutality in its draft.
If the police could apply the same passion in pursuing criminals then I am convinced Kenya would be the most secure nation under the sun. The tale of one Joseph Ribo is also doing rounds on YouTube. This is a traumatizing story of a once vibrant young man who was brutally abused by GSU officers in Trans-Nzoia County some years back .He now talks of his broken marriage that he attributes to the police beating which incapacitated his manhood rendering him a weakling in the bedroom.
Any Kenyan who has been victim to our police would concur that there’s need for serious reforms in the police service and I emphasize serious reform of the police service. There’s need to inject some professionalism into it to make it more civilian-friendly and accessible to all members of the society. Early this year my prayers for a reformed unit were reduced to a mirage when Hassan Omar’s term as a commissioner at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR). His term ended at a time he was to be part of the team to oversee the vetting and eventual weeding out of persons who give the police a bad name. I wonder when the new team would be up again but my fingers remained crossed hoping that the reforms are coming as soon as now.
Even as debates continue to rage on whether the overall chief of the police service (Inspector General) should be an insider (from the police service) or an outsider (from the general public), it’s my prayer that the most suitable man/woman takes over the obligation with vigour. Hopefully we will see the Kenya Police do things the Tanzania way: Shikamoo kaka, naomba kukushika
Video courtesy: NTV YouTube Channel