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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Are the Kenya Police they new tax collectors?

Running out of time and tactics, PNU is now resorting to intimidation. Our earlier post describes how bandit president Kibaki's government is threatening to dissolve the Media Council of Kenya. Not satisfied with developments on that front, it is now turning on it's citizens; and in particular opposition supporters.

Fresh chaos erupted in Mathare slums in Nairobi following a police raid over an alleged rent dispute between landlords and tenants. The night operation triggered an angry response from the residents who emerged from their houses at dawn yesterday and unleashed mayhem. They torched a bus and barricaded roads into and out of the slum. Tension remained high as marauding youths threatened more chaos to protest against the police action.

Contingents of police raided several flats in Mathare and Dandora estates where they forcefully evicted tenants before loading them onto their vehicles. Residents said the officers struck at 2am and surrounded the affected houses before breaking in. Some of those affected claimed the officers stole their television and radio sets, mobile phones and other valuables. "They were even harassing our wives. Why should they conduct such an operation at night at this time of political tensions and yet the issue has not been taken to the rent tribunal?" questioned one resident. At least four flats had their doors broken into and property vandalised. Other residents said they were not sure if those involved in the operation were police officers.

However, Kasarani OCPD, Jasper Ombati, said the exercise was organised after they received numerous complaints from landlords that some of their tenants had refused to pay rent. He denied accusations that police harassed residents and stole their property, saying they used minimum force. "We acted in a civil manner and got those who had not paid their rent following complaints from landlords," said Ombati.

But the residents displayed receipts for their rent, which they had allegedly paid, while some conceded that they had not paid the rent because their landlords and agents had not showed up to collect the same. "Since post-election violence erupted, we have not seen our landlord. He has our mobile numbers, but he has not come for the money," argued one tenant.

In a related incident, a prominent Uasin Gishu farmer, businessman and ODM politician Jackson Kibor was arrested by police and flown to an unknown destination. Tension remained high as impatient supporters and relatives of the 80 year old farmer camped at the police station demanding to know why he had been arrested. More than 30 detectives in civilian clothes had also packed the precincts of the Eldoret Police Station. A senior police officer was quoted saying that the arrest was part of ongoing investigation on post-election violence. "He has been escorted to an unknown destination where investigating officers are going to conduct a search," said Deputy OCPD, Gabriel Kuya. Kuya learned of the arrest from the media after returning to the station from field duties late in the afternoon and consulted the investigating team, who confirmed the arrest.

Independent reports later showed that Kibor was escorted to the airport, from where he was airlifted to Nakuru. He had initially been taken to the Eldoret Police Station where he recorded a statement the whole morning and early afternoon. Kibor was among elders who featured as speakers at ODM rallies in the North Rift in the run-up to the last General Election. He was at one time the Ford Kenya National co-ordinator during the late Vice-President Kijana Wamalwa’s tenure as chairman of the party. He later moved to Kanu and Ford People, where he played some high profile roles before taking a back seat only to resurface last year.

Police have arrested scores of people in the region in the past three weeks, but none has been charged with in court.

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