Civil society and a section of leaders in Nakuru have accused Governor Kinuthia Mbugua of using the police to harass journalists and human rights defenders questioning his leadership.
The activists, led by Simon Ole Nasieku, the chairman of Nakuru People’s Accountability Forum, said Mr Mbugua, a former Administration Police commandant, was using police to silence voices calling for integrity in his administration as well as political opponents.
“The governor is behaving as if he is above the law. He uses the police at will to arrest and intimidate anybody who questions malpractices in his administration,” said Mr Nasieku.
The activists, who converged in Nakuru under the umbrella of the Nakuru Human Rights Network, urged Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet to rein in the police and ensure they are not used by politicians to settle personal scores.
“We also urge the Office of the Ombudsman and the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to investigate the issue,” said David Kuria another activist.
They spoke hours after Nakuru-based blogger Elijah Kinyanjui was arrested and forced to spend a night in police cells for allegedly defaming Governor Mbugua on social media.
Mr Kinyanjui was arrested on Saturday evening and accused of saying on his Facebook page that the governor was turned away from State House in Nakuru when he went to see President Uhuru Kenyatta.
According to the post that was widely shared on social media, President Kenyatta was on a private visit to Nakuru for three days last week but declined to meet the governor "even at his Gicheha farm in Rongai sub-county".
Mr Kinyanjui was held and interrogated before being released on Sunday morning.
According to Nakuru Directorate of Criminal Investigations boss Henry Kiambati, the governor had complained about the Facebook post that was first shared on a WhatsApp platform called Nakuru Analysts before it spread to other sites.
Police sources told the Nation that the county boss deemed Mr Kinyanjui’s post malicious and defamatory.
Mr Kinyanjui, a former journalist, is known for his criticism of the county administration.
He recently wrote about a public toilet launched by the governor in Molo Sub-County that he said cost Sh8.9 million, something the county dismissed as propaganda, maintaining that the facility had cost the county only Sh1.9 million.
In January this year, Mr Kinyanjui was arrested after he allegedly published compromising pictures and a story about the governor’s daughter.