Lamu clerics move to have police bosses transferred

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Lamu, KENYA: The Council of elders and clerics in Lamu County has given the government a seven-day ultimatum to transfer all security bosses from the region on grounds of corruption and endless harassment of the public.

The elders say the security bosses are directly responsible for the bad blood and poor cooperation between security officers operating in the region and members of the public.

They said members of the public in Lamu were undergoing extreme harassment and having their rights fringed upon by security officers who act on direct orders from their bosses.

On Tuesday, Two people sustained gunshot wounds while 15 others were injured from the beatings they received from the police officers following a dawn during an altercation that saw the officers draw their guns on a group of youth.

At least 30 youth were also arrested by police.

Speaking to the media in Lamu town on Wednesday led by the council chairperson Sharif Salim, the elders said locals no longer have faith in the current crop of police bosses in the county starting from the county commissioner Joseph Kanyiri, County Police Muchangi Kioi, the Director of Criminal Investigations-DCI and their deputies.

Salim said the security bosses had become extremely notorious for their increasingly corrupt way of handling matters in the region, a situation they said was doing Lamu more harm than good.

The elders are now calling on the Inspector General Joseph Bonnet to probe the increased cases of police brutality and prosecute officers involved.

They gave the IG seven days to transfer all the top security bosses and replace them with ‘sane and humane’ individuals who care about human rights.

“As elders, we condemn the growing cases of police brutality on innocent and unarmed members of the public. We wish to understand which constitution or law allows them to do what they are doing to people here. You cant go about beating people and shooting others because they refused to bribe you. The IG has just seven days to transfer all the security bosses from Lamu and send them elsewhere. They have damaged the trust we once had in the men in uniform,” said Salim.

The chairperson of the Coast Interfaith Council of Clerics-CICC Mohamed Abdulkadir urged the Director of Public Prosecutions-DPP Noordin Hajji to probe the police bosses and their juniors for police brutality and corruption.

 “We want the DPP to probe some of these police bosses who have become addicted to bribes and when they don’t get their way,they order people to be beaten and harassed.Some of these bosses have been here for so long and that’s why we want them out,”said Abdulkadir

He said it was unfortunate that members of the public in Lamu are more scared of the security officers than criminals and terrorists.

“Even the seven day ultimatum seems too long.These corrupt officers ought to leave as soon as now.The relationship between police and the public has completely broken down all thanks to orders they get from their corrupt bosses,”he said.

They urged the Independent Police Oversight Authority-IPOA to also intervene and hold the officers accountable for police brutality,use of excessive force, corruption among other crimes.

Francis Auma,a human rights activist with MUHURI has condemned rising cases of police brutality in Lamu and said the body will be heading to court to sue the Lamu Police for the same and others.

“We can’t have police molest and harass people whenever they like.These cases have gone on for long and its time someone held this officers accountable so that they understand and be reminded of their exact mandate. We are taking legal action against the Lamu police,”said Auma.

On Tuesday y,residents of Lamu town stormed the Lamu Police Station demanding the immediate and unconditional release of 30 youth arrested by police after an altercation ensued between the two sides.

 Speaking when he led protesters outside the Lamu Police station on Tuesday afternoon,Mkomani ward MCA Yahya Shee urged the Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet to intervene and have the continued incidents of police brutality on unarmed and innocent civilians investigated.

The protestors asked for the transfer of all police bosses who had stayed long in the region saying they had become extremely comfortable and accustomed to not being efficient.

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