Ombudsman puts senior police officers on the spot over Lang’ata Road school demo

By: ANGIRA ZADOCK

Disciplinary action should be taken against the Nairobi County police commander and his officers over the manner in which they handled the January Lang’ata Road Primary School demonstration, the Ombudsman has recommended.

The Commission on Administrative Justice (CAJ) in its report said that the Nairobi County Police Commander Benson Kibue and Kajiado North AP boss Inspector Leonard Chea Mayaya be reprimanded by the National Police Service Commission (NPSC) for negligence in the performance of their duties.

Two other officers, the Lang’ata OCPD Elija Mwangi and Chief Inspector Gabriel Wanjala, are to be suspended by the NPSC for a period of 6 months and their salary increments suspended for a period of six months.

Mr Kibue was found to have failed to advise the school’s headteacher about potential danger, and together with his juniors, failed to inform CAJ investigators which officer was responsible for lobbing teargas canisters on the pupils.

The teargas canisters were lobbed at the children and other demonstrators who were trying to gain entry into the disputed land.

FIVE PUPILS INJURED

Five school children were injured in the incident while one of them, Lucy Njeri, was admitted for further medical examinations.

Also injured was a police officer who sustained injury on the forehead after a stone hit him.

During the investigations that sought to establish whether the police officers used excess force against school children on January 19, 2015, the CAJ wrote to Mr Kibue and Inspector Chea but they did not respond, prompting the Ombudsman to cite them for unresponsiveness.

“As a result, the commission has entered them in the CAJ blacklist for being unresponsive, and (they) should also be reprimanded by the National Police Service Commission for dereliction in the performance of their duties,” the Ombudsman said.

The then acting police boss Samwel Arachi has also been accused of suspending the Lang’ata OCPD through the media.

“The suspension of the OCPD over the media by the then acting Inspector General, Mr Samuel Arachi, was improper.

“This should only have been made after investigation, and done in writing to the officer and not over the media,” the report says.

PRIVATE DEVELOPERS

On January 19, 2015, members of the civil society, politicians and Lang’ata Road Primary School pupils protested over the alleged irregular acquisition of their school’s land by private developers.

The Police Operation Order issued on January 18 and signed by Mr Kibui, showed that 108 officers, drawn from all divisions in the county, under the command of Lang’ata OCPD were deployed at the school.

Mr Mwangi briefed the officers who were expected to safeguard life and property, and ensure safety of the school children.

The demonstrators included Lang’ata MP Ken Okoth, Kibra MP Joash Olum, civil society members and the pupils.

The Ombudsman found them, including two other MCAs in breach of the Public Order Act for failing to notify the regulating officer at least three days in advance of the intended peaceful demonstration.

The commission also recommended that a warning letter be issued by the Teachers Service Commission to the school’s head, Mr Peter Mugo for professional misconduct by failing to take appropriate intervention measures to protect the school children and ensure that they did not take part in the demonstration during school hours.

Another report faulted him for not taking administrative action to restrain the pupils from leaving their classrooms to join in the demonstration.

The Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinett, the commission recommended, should review the Riot Manual to meet international standards in line with UN basic principles particularly in relation to the use of force and firearms.