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Three die as police clash with Nandi residents

Friday June 26 2020
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Residents staged a protest accusing the police of using brutal force. PHOTO | TOM MATOKE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By TOM MATOKE
By ONYANGO K'ONYANGO

Three people died while five others sustained serious injuries in a clash between the police and residents of Lessos, Nandi County following a shooting of a cobbler for flouting Covid-19 regulations on Thursday.

Chaos erupted after hundreds of villagers stormed the Lessos Police Station and set ablaze the house of Officer Commanding Police Station (OCS) in the morning to protest the shooting to death of Lazarus Tirop.

HARASSMENT

Tirop had protested the harassment of a boda-boda operator for not wearing a face mask.

The father of four was shot and killed as he confronted two police officers who were harassing a boda-boda operator over a Sh50 bribe.

The angry residents engaged the security agents for more than two hours, accusing the police officers of extra judicial killing.

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Five people, who were injured in the fracas, were rushed to Kapsabet Hospital

Mr Tirop’s sister Marcela Cheptum asked for justice for her brother.

"My brother is not an unruly person to deserve such a death, he was physically challenged so there is no way he was a threat to the police officers," said Ms Cheptum.

 POLICE BRUTALITY

Human Rights Activist from the Centre Against Torture Kimutai Kirui urged the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to ensure that sanity is restored in the police sector. He argued that cases of rogue police officers killing civilians had increased in the last three months.

"It is high time for the IG to put his house in order, cases of rogue police officers killing citizens are rampant," said Mr Kirui.

 Another protestor said Mr Tirop was pleading with the accused police officer to stop torturing a boda-boda rider when he was shot twice. 

"One officer passed his rifle to another one who was coming towards us, and in seconds Tirop lay dead on the road,” Ms Mercy Jeptoo told Nation.

The locals have accused the police officers of engaging in bribery especially over flouting curfew directives and wearing of face masks.

Later in the evening, a man was shot dead after he attempted to steal a gun from the burnt OCS’ house while another man was electrocuted as he climbed the electricity post.

The Nandi County Police Commander Samson ole Kina said action taken against the officers involved after investigation.

OFFICER ARRESTED

Mr ole Kina said that the police officer has been arrested.  Nandi County Commissioner Olaka Kutswa promised to expedite the probe and ensure justice is served for the 40 year- old man.

Mr Kutswa also promised to transfer at the station in a bid to restore sanity and healthy relations between the officers and the locals.

Governor Stephen Sang demanded the release of over ten boda-boda riders who were arrested following the scuffle between locals and the police as a result of shooting of a cobbler.

The county chief also demanded the transfer of all police officers at the station for abetting corruption at the expense of serving the public.

"It is unfortunate that the police station has been turned into a torture and extortion chamber and not a place where the public can access fairness,” said the governor.

The area MCA Emmanuel Mengeech also condemned the killing of the cobbler. Mr Mengeech demanded the arrest and prosecution of the rogue police officer involved in the shooting incident.    

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