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Police assault journalist during Homa Bay assembly chaos

Tuesday October 2 2018

James Omoro

Standard Group journalist James Omoro, who was assaulted by anti-riot police officers while covering chaos at the Homa Bay County Assembly on October 2, 2018. PHOTO | RUSHDIE OUDIA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

RUSHDIE OUDIA
By RUSHDIE OUDIA
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A journalist from Homa Bay County was beaten and his camera destroyed as he covered chaos at the assembly on Tuesday.

Mr James Omoro, a correspondent of Standard Group Limited, was attacked by police officers who went to restore calm.

HOSTILITY

Mr Omoro narrated that he had been going about his business at about 8.30am when an officer approached him.

The assembly had been surrounded by anti-riot police from Homa Bay town and other neighbouring sub-counties.

"After realising they were hostile, I decided to introduce myself but an officer took none of it. He hit my right hand with a baton and crashed my camera. He later confiscated it," said Mr Omoro.

The journalist then realised that more officers were going for him so he turned to run away but was hit again by the same policeman.

He ran to a police station some 50 meters away and reported the attack.

HELP

Mr Omoro returned to the assembly with the Homa Bay Director of Criminal Investigations Officer (DCIO) but did not find the officer.

"We couldn't find the culprit who had stolen my camera. I wondered what his intention was and whose instructions he was under," he said.

This is not the first such occurrence in Homa Bay; journalists have been blocked and harassed at the assembly premises in the past.

Homa Bay Police Commander Marius Tum said investigations will be carried out and action taken against the police officers who assaulted the journalist.

"We will get to the bottom of this and the camera will be found," he said.

James Omoro's camera

The camera that belonged to Standard Group journalist James Omoro, who was assaulted by anti-riot police officers while covering chaos at the Homa Bay County Assembly on October 2, 2018. PHOTO | RUSHDIE OUDIA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

WRANGLES

The officers responded to chaos by people who stormed the assembly following leadership wrangles in the past few months.

The people are said to have sneaked into the premises by cutting through a fence early morning.

It is believed their goal was to secure the office of the majority leader amid leadership battles between two factions.

The police officers used tear gas to disperse the crowd and a section of members of county assembly (MCAs) who tried to enter the office by force.

The office had already been occupied by newly elected Majority Leader Walter Were and colleagues who support him.

A section of MCAs allied to former Majority Leader Richard Ogindo, led by Kojwach's Joan Ogada, said they had to get into the assembly premises by 5am so they would not be barred by Mr Were's supporters.

The battle that lasted at least three hours forced the area police boss to call for reinforcement from police stations in Kendu-Bay, Rangwe, Ndhiwa and Mbita.

Matters worsened when some threw stones at assembly staff members who were opposed to the violence.