alexa Miguna saga puts much-touted police reforms on the spot - Daily Nation

Miguna saga puts much-touted police reforms on the spot

Saturday March 31 2018

POLICE REFORMS

Police officers eject K24 TV cameraman Evans Okeyo from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on March 27, 2018 where Miguna Miguna was being detained. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

WALTER MENYA
By WALTER MENYA
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FRED MUKINDA
By FRED MUKINDA
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The government may have managed to block Dr Miguna Miguna’s entry but the actions or inactions of the police remain as critics again question the promise to reform the service.

Hours after Dr Miguna arrived, and with the stand-off persisting, the police descended on journalists injuring a number of them, including NTV’s Robert Gichira.

The same was to be repeated on Wednesday night when Miguna was forced into the Emirates’ plane to Dubai where he remains.

LAWYERS

Dr Miguna’s lawyers James Orengo, Nelson Havi, Cliff Ombeta and Julie Soweto were roughed up when they went to JKIA to serve High Court orders.

“We escaped from the airport and are all safe…. Heavily armed policemen cordoned off the entrance to JKIA Terminal 2, to prevent Mr Orengo, Mr Ombeta, and Ms Soweto and I from serving the order by Justice Odunga and seeing Miguna.

"We read out the order to the policemen, who called for re-enforcement and attempted to run us over with a truck,” Mr Havi had said of the incident.

POLICE ABUSE
In between the three days, there were also incidents of police harassment as the two sides – Dr Miguna’s and the Ministry of Interior – dug in.

Mr Chris Gitari, who heads the International Center for Transitional Justice Kenya office, says the incident at JKIA is a clear indication that the much-touted police reforms are dead.

“One of things that you can see is that the way they were deployed during the elections in terms of controlling protestors and also how they are dealing with Miguna Miguna shows the police are now essentially used to settle political scores.

"That is clearly evident and the manner in which they attacked the journalists in particular shows you that media freedom is on the line,” Mr Gitari said.

SECURITY
The Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka, however, said the criticisms against the police actions are being one-sided.

“On the reaction of the police towards the journalists, we are categorical that we do not condone violence or use of excessive force against any person.

"But we also have to understand that JKIA is a high security area and the information I have is that the journalists had been asked to leave the airport at the time but some resisted. But it was unfortunate incident,” Mr Njoka said.

The spokesman added that while he is not competent to speak on matters of deployment of officers, it depends on the issue at hand.

“It was not just Miguna as some people would want Kenyans to believe. We had passengers and former Prime Minister (Raila Odinga) at the airport besides other people including lawyers and journalists and we would not want any of them to be caught in the melee. It, therefore, calls for enough security to take care of everyone,” he said.

DEPLOYMENT
Sources within the force told Sunday Nation that at least four units of the National Police Service were deployed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to thwart any attempts by Miguna to leave the airport unless he complied with immigration requirements.

It was not a hurried deployment because at any given time there are hundreds of officers from various units, manning the main gateway into Kenya.

The General Duty officers, better known as the regular police, are usually deployed to the JKIA police station, and more officers at the division level, also domiciled at the airport.

There is also a company of General Service Unit officers who are deployed at the airport in six-hour shifts every day since the airport is deemed a “vital installation”.

COMMANDANT
Directorate of Criminal Investigations also had its officers at the airport.

The Kenya Airports Police Unit, which has detachments at all airports in the country, has its headquarters at JKIA and is headed by a commandant.

The commandant is the most senior of all commanders of other units at JKIA.

During the three-day standoff, Mr Philip Ndolo was in charge of the airport.

He was replaced by Mr Titus Karuri over what is believed to be in connection with Miguna saga.