Senior police officers refused to help in Mpeketoni attacks, court told

By: PHILIP MUYANGA

Senior General Service Unit and Administration Police commanders declined to release their officers to back up their regular police counterparts to respond to attacks in Mpeketoni, a court heard

Former Lamu County police commander Leonard Omollo said upon his request for GSU personnel, he was informed that the then commandant who is the current Deputy Inspector General of Police Mr Joel Kitili had instructions that none of his officers move at night.

The officer told the court that matters were becoming difficult and he was forced to call then Inspector-General of Police David Kimaiyo, who granted his request after consulting with others.

REQUESTED BACKUP

Mr Omollo said he also requested officers from the AP’s Rapid Deployment Unit who were stationed 12 kilometres from Mpeketoni.

“I called the commander RDU, she could hear gun shots and bombs, they were 12 kilometers from Mpeketoni,” said Mr Omollo, who was being led in his evidence by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Alexander Muteti.

The officer told the court that the following day, the deputy inspector-general in charge of AP, Mr Samuel Arachi, said he gave instructions to his men not to proceed (to Mpeketoni) to avoid a repeat of Baragoi (where APs were killed).

“He (Arachi) talked in the presence of a minister (Cabinet secretary), principal secretary and the IG,” said Mr Omollo, who is now a trainer at Kiganjo Police College.

Mr Omollo was testifying in a case in which Mr Dyna Salim and Mr Mahadi Swaleh Mahadi, alias Jesus, have been charged with 60 counts of murder in relation to Mpeketoni attacks.

The officer said Mr Kitili’s reluctance to release his officers wasted a lot of time and that had he not insisted he would not have got them.

“Time wasted arguing over deployment of GSU contributed to the attackers fleeing,” said Mr Omollo while being cross-examined by defence lawyer Taib Ali Taib.

LET DOWN

Mr Omollo said an officer who was to lay an ambush against two vehicles allegedly carrying the attackers let police down after he allowed the militants to pass on claims that they had superior manpower.

“If the ambush (had been) successful, the operation could have been brought to a successful conclusion,” said Mr Omollo.

The officer further told the court that while conducting the operation after the attacks, he discovered that other commanders were not present.

During the operation, the officer said they were relying on mobile phone communication and that the county had no police communication gadgets.

Mr Omollo told the court that to command Lamu County effectively, a commander needs at least 400 personnel.

The officer told the court that he was interdicted the day after the attacks on the grounds that he failed to protect people but was later cleared.

Mr Salim and Mr Mahadi are alleged to have committed the offences during the period between June 15 and 17 last year in Kaisari Village and Mpeketoni Township in Lamu County.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION