News 2008


WANTED: Police probe 200 over violence



14. Feb 2008

NAIROBI, February 14 - More than 200 prominent personalities believed to have funded or instigated the post-election violence in Kenya are under investigation, police said Thursday.

They include politicians, church leaders and business people said to have either sponsored or incited people to commit atrocities that have left nearly 1,000 people dead and over 500,000 others displaced.

Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe said some of those under investigation had been summoned to write statements, while others were still at large.

“It is a broad-based investigation, which is aimed at bringing justice in the country. Our officers have managed to catch up with some of them but others are still on the run,” he said.

The police have already released photographs of more than 100 of those said to be at large and offered handsome rewards to anyone with credible information on their whereabouts.

Some of the photographs were released a week ago while others were released late Thursday.

“We are appealing for assistance from the public. Any information will be treated with utmost confidence,” he said.

He said detectives were documenting evidence against the suspects, who will be arraigned in court as soon as the probes are completed.

Kiraithe did not reveal the names of the prominent personalities under investigations.

He said photographs published in the local media a week ago had yielded fruit and led to the arrest of more than fifty other suspects.

National Youth Service

Kiraithe also announced plans by the Kenya Police to absorb more than 5000 personnel from the National Youth Service (NYS) to boost its capacity to contain rising crime in the country.

The Spokesman said the move is aimed at re-enforcing the already overstretched capacity of the police force, which is grappling to contain the violence sparked by the outcome of the Presidential vote.

The violence that broke out soon after President Mwai Kibaki was sworn-in has claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 people and displaced more than 500,000 others.

Police were unable to contain the riots in various parts of the country, particularly in Rift Valley province, where houses were torched and people slashed as officers watched helplessly.

Even police stations and administrations camps were burnt to the ground and policemen slaughtered, while others had their guns taken away by mobs.

One such instance was reported in Kipkelion district where mobs stormed an Administration Police (AP) camp, killed an officer and slashed his colleague before they proceeded to rob 12 rifles from the armoury.

“It was the worst incident reported during these trying moments. It was so unfortunate and a big loss to the force,” Kiraithe said.

On Thursday, he said those absorbed from the NYS would be required to undertake basic instruction at the Kenya Police Training College in Kiganjo.

“The recruitment from the NYS is intended to give the police force an opportunity to recruit candidates who are already trained and have a tested discipline record,” he told journalists.

However, he said, the opportunity would benefit servicemen and women who have been at NYS for a maximum period of three years.

“The training exposure given to NYS graduands and servicemen will enable police instructors accord the candidates significant credit hours, hence a shorter training period,” he asserted.

Though Kiraithe was reluctant to reveal how long NYS personnel will take at the Police College Kiganjo, independent sources indicated they would be trained for a period ranging between two to three months.

The training college is also overpopulated and can only accommodate a maximum of 1,500 recruits at each single period.

“The college is stretched. The 5,000 NYS personnel they plan to bring here can only be accommodated in three phases,” a senior officer at Kiganjo said.

We also learnt that the recruitment exercise for the NYS had already started at various holding grounds in the country.

A senior officer at the Gilgil base confirmed that they had been told to start identifying potential candidates to join the force.

“We received communication from Nairobi and the exercise has already started. We are at the vetting stage,” the officer said.

The move to absorb NYS personnel to the Police force is contained in the Kenya Police Strategic Plan that was launched in 2004.

It is one of the recommendations that were forwarded by a team of experts who were asked to draw a comprehensive draft to spearhead reforms in the force.

“It was recommended that the ratio of police to the population be increased as a matter of priority. This includes the recruitment of NYS personnel to serve both in the Administration and police,” Kiraithe explained.

Currently, there are 45,000 police officers deployed in various parts of the country.

Of these, nearly half of are deployed to guard both local and foreign VIP’s and other government installations across the country.