Police disperse Ford Kenya members during presser in Kitale
By David Musundi
Police in Kitale on Thursday dispersed a press conference convened by senior citizens and church leaders who had converged to bring peace between the two warring groups trying to outdo each other in the Ford Kenya’s leadership.
The police officers who were under command of Trans Nzoia West OCPD Joseph Tum dispersed the elders who scampered for their safety and escaped from the Grassland centre conference, saying the meeting of the 10 elders was an illegal gathering.
Mr. Tum, who was not putting on a face mask, could not come to terms with the reality when journalists questioned him to explain why he was leading police officers without masks to hurl unprintable words towards elders.
"Close the gate and put all these people including Journalists in that waiting land cruiser. This is an illegal meeting and all culprits must be apprehended," he said.
The journalists from several media outlets however stood their ground and reminded the police that they were only doing their work, a move that so much infuriated a non uniformed policeman threatening to unleash teargas canisters at the members of the press.
"Journalists have come to cover the presser by the 10 senior citizens who include two pastors. We all have abided by the ministry of health guidelines. Why do you come to harass the media?" said Kitale Press Organization chairman Godrics Wanyonyi.
The conveners of the presser, the Right Reverend Ferdinand Wanyisia and Edward Munabi blamed the anti-riot police for storming the venue of the meeting despite police having given the 10 elders a green light to go ahead.
The police action immediately elicited discontent from members of the human rights defenders who have told the police to respect the fundamental rights of the media in accessing information.
"We condemn this barbaric behavior of a police officer hurling insults to the media and threatening to lob teargas canisters against them. We are asking the police commander to instill discipline among his officers," said Kefa Were of the restoration of human rights and democracy CBO.
Area Police boss Ayub Gitonga said he was unaware of anything and promised to take appropriate action after carrying out investigations.