Officers in JKUAT student assault incident interdicted
By Mathew Ndung’u and Oliver Musembi
Four police officers who were on Monday captured on camera assaulting a Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) student were positively identified and have been interdicted.
Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai said further disciplinary or legal action would follow after investigations by the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU).
Mutyambai yesterday morning directed IAU detectives to conduct investigations and furnish his office with a preliminary report. Five hours later, the police boss announced that the four had been identified and interdicted.
Interestingly, the Kiambu County police boss Ali Nuno defended his officers for “exercising a lot of restraint” adding that no student was injured.
“The National Police Service wishes to inform the public that four officers who were caught on camera meting excessive force on a JKUAT student have been identified and consequently interdicted from Service as per Police Service procedures,” Mutyambai said.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i earlier said the officers used excessive and unnecessary force, and asked the police boss to investigate the matter and take appropriate action.
“I have observed the events at JKUAT today with profound concern. I have spoken to the Inspector General and we both agreed that firm and decisive action shall be taken against any officer who used excessive force within the next 24 hours,” the CS said.
Mutyambai warned that every officer involved would take individual responsibility in case of any violation.
The IAU director Charlton Muriithi, who leads the probe, visited the scene and the university and also confirmed that it was a clear case of use of excessive force.
He called on Kenyans to remain calm as investigations are carried out.
“Officers were responding to a situation where there was need to protect life and property. However, in the course of trying to quell the demonstrations, the officers behaved in an unlawful manner,” he said. Dozens of police officers, who were part of the anti-riot team that had gone to the university to restore order yesterday, recorded statements with IAU detectives.
The Monday riots were occasioned by reports of rising insecurity in and around the Juja campus.
The officers were captured assaulting the student in a video clip shared widely on social media. In the video, three officers are seen beating up an unarmed student lying on the ground, with two of them kicking him on the head.
In another video, officers are seen breaking into the gates to a students hostel.
Gravity of offence
“Officers have also been trained on the need to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, and that, use of force must be legal and of necessity to the needs of justice; it must be applied to the extent that it remains proportionate to the gravity of the offence and with full accountability,” Mutyambai said.
A number of organisations have condemned the attack, with some conducting parallel investigations.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has also condemned the incident and dispatched the Rapid Response Unit to investigate the matter.
The Authority’s chair Anne Makori yesterday expressed disappointment at the unprofessional manner in which the police deployed their public order management mechanisms during the operation.
IPOA has also appealed for eyewitness accounts and any related information to help the investigations.
Amnesty International Kenya and student leaders of the University of Nairobi and the Technical University of Kenya said the incident painted the police service in bad light.
While welcoming action against the brutal officers, the body said that policing during public demonstrations should stop.
“Officers who break their code of office must be held individually guilty of misconduct, sanctioned and made to compensate victims,” Amnesty International’s Kenya Executive Director Irungu Houghton said.
Meanwhile, the nine students arrested during the protests were released on Monday morning on free bond.