Details emerge over gun Babu Owino allegedly used to shoot DJ
Questions have emerged over how Embakasi East lawmaker Babu Owino acquired the gun believed to have been used to shoot a DJ at a popular Nairobi club last week.
Investigations by People Daily reveal that a security committee had rejected Owino’s application for a firearm licence, citing his lifestyle, but the Firearms Licensing Board cleared him and issued him with one.
The flamboyant MP had applied for a licence through the Embakasi sub-county commander’s office and was cleared without any issues.
His application was then forwarded to the Nairobi county security committee, where it was rejected on grounds of the applicant’s lifestyle.
Licences cannot be issued to persons thought to be intemperate or of unsound mind, or those who fail background checks, which consider criminal, mental and domestic violence records.
Police headquarters yesterday said it had no role in the licence issuance, adding that it was the work of the licencing board.
Contacted, board chairman Charles Mukindia said: “That one I don’t know. Talk to the police. Those are the people charged with that responsibility.”
The MP was on Monday charged with attempted murder of Felix Orinda at B-Club, Nairobi at the weekend. He denied the charges and was remanded for seven days.
As the finger pointing between the police and the board continued, our investigations established that before he applied for the licence in Embakasi, Owino went to Parliament Police Station and made a report, claiming he had been receiving threats to his life. The matter was reported under Occurrence Book (OB) number 21/17/11/2019.
“I have been living under the weight of intimidation and threats by my political opponents,” he said on January 17, 2020 after the DJ’s shooting in Nairobi’s Kilimani area.
Sources in security circles said despite the recent re-vetting of civilian firearm holders and the strict procedures for acquiring a private licence, some holders who do not meet the qualifications, or those with a questionable records, still acquire them.
Indeed, according to police, a firearm in the wrong hands is the biggest threat to security and as a result, all applicants must pass background checks which consider criminal, mental, social and domestic circumstances.
And since the government generally assumes it is able to protect all its citizens, a civilian firearm holder must have valid reasons to be issued with a firearm licence.
Last year, the Interior ministry reconstituted the Firearms Licencing Board and a former National Intelligence Service (NIS) officer, Mukindia, was appointed its chair.
Immediately, the ministry instituted new procedures in acquisition and holding of civilian firearms to ensure only those properly vetted and found to be in need of the weapons were allowed to acquire them in the right calibre, form and quantity.
Speaking in Mombasa last week, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said the government had destroyed 8,628 illegal firearms and almost 370,000 rounds of ammunition. The exercise will continue this year.
“We have illegal firearms in the hands of criminals that we shall continue to mop up.
Further, we have acquired firearms in the hands of civilians that are an equal threat to criminally owned firearms,” he said.
Despite the re-vetting and cancellation of some licences, there have been cases of misuse of firearms while some unqualified people have been issued with licences.
Police have been blamed for the increase in the misuse of firearms for failing to take stern action against those found misusing their weapons, mainly because most of the culprits are highly-connected while others bribe their way out of trouble.
According to the Firearms Act, applicants can only be issued with firearms if it is established they are suitable to possess the firearm without endangering public safety and peace.
The assessment should include the applicant’s character, habits and general behaviour.
Applications for the purposes of “self –protection” should be carefully investigated. Very few applications of this nature are approved, as the police are generally capable of providing protection to the public in most circumstances.
In extreme cases where the circumstances of a person’s employment or duties expose him to danger of criminal attack, he or she may be permitted to possess a weapon for personal protection.
The Civilian Firearms Act requires all holders to safely keep their firearms and only remove them when they are in extreme danger.
Additionally, the weapons should not be exposed, especially in public or social places. Failing to secure a firearm so that it is a threat to the public or occasion injury to a third party is considered a serious offence.