Police in Mombasa were Wednesday given shoot-to-kill orders in the ongoing crackdown on suspected terrorists.
The order by Mombasa county commissioner Nelson Marwa came only three days after hooded gunmen opened fire on worshippers at the Joy in Christ Church in Likoni where they killed six people and wounded at least 15 others, including a boy, Satrine Osinya, who has a bullet lodged in his skull.
The boy was airlifted to Nairobi on Tuesday for surgery at the Kenyatta National Hospital.
Mr Marwa said criminals do not deserve mercy and should not be taken to court and should be dealt with on the spot.
“Those are not people to be arrested because they are armed, they must be finished with on the spot,” he said. “Why take them to court yet they have killed six people?
What justice is there when you have killed? Who is going to be your witness in court? Will you resurrect the people you killed to be your witnesses? Let us be fair. When they are caught, deal with them on the spot”.
Mr Marwa spoke when he met more than 300 Christian clergymen who had gone to inquire about the security situation in the county where congregations have in the past been targeted by armed attackers.
He said the operation to arrest the gunmen was ongoing and had extended to Kwale and Kilifi counties. Over 109 people have been arrested in connection with the attack.
Mr Marwa’s order sparked protest from a lobby group and a human rights lawyer who said yesterday he should resign for ordering the summary execution of armed suspects.
Muslims for Human Rights Group (Muhuri) executive director Khelef Khalifa said Mr Marwa — who is also the chairman of the county security committee — has overstepped his mandate.
“He is unfit to hold any public office. How does he order the police to kill criminals when we have laws and courts? This is extra-judicial killings,” Mr Khalifa said. “By next week we will have taken him to court.”
Constitutional lawyer Mbugua Mureithi said Mr Marwa’s statement was not anchored in law and posed the risk of inciting the police to commit crimes.
“He was saying that terror suspects should be gunned down; that he is giving authority to the police to be the investigators, the judges and the executioners. That is not the country that Kenyans determined in 2010 when they passed the Constitution,” Mr Mureithi said.
In a related development, Interior Secretary Joseph ole Lenku also warned that tough measures would be taken against those behind the Sunday attack.
Speaking at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, Mr Lenku said: “We will not say anymore what we intend to do, but will ask those Kenyans who will not want to be hurt to keep off areas that are outside the law.”
He spoke after visiting Satrine Osinya at the hospital where he is scheduled to be operated on to remove the bullet lodged in his skull.
“We have warned those who are being misused long enough. We will not warn them anymore,” Mr Lenku said. “We will deal with them”.
Yesterday, however, he said he had gone to the hospital to show love, support and goodwill to the family of the 18-month-old boy, whose mother was killed in the Sunday attack as she tried to shield him from bullets.
Earlier in the day, Mr Marwa had warned suspects to surrender in mosques or churches if they are to be spared.
During the meeting, Bishop Wilfred Lai, who chairs the Mombasa Church Forum, said the attacks would not intimidate Christians.
“Those who are threatening the churches, you must know that a Christian will not be intimidated or feel threatened to go to church. We will continue preaching the word of God and He will deal with you.”
He said the religious leaders would support the families of those who were killed during the Sunday attack.
On Tuesday, Mombasa governor Hassan Joho urged the region to stand together and support the security organs to ensure what happened on Sunday never happens again.
“Nobody has a right to take away a life,” he said during an event to mark the World TB Day.
“The innocent children that were worshipping have committed no sin to anyone,” he said, and asked the police to arrest those behind the attack and prosecute them.