IPOA recommends compensation for UoN students attacked by police in 2016

Sunday, September 20th, 2020 15:43 | By
A Student pleading for mercy during the 2016 UoN student attack by police. PHOTO/COURTESY

The University of Nairobi (UoN) students who were brutally attacked by police officers and their property damaged during the hotly contested April 2016 Student Organization of Nairobi University (SONU) elections can now sue the state for compensation.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has also directed that Chief Inspector Stanley Mbuvi, who was in charge of the General Service Unit (GSU), team be held responsible for the violations committed by the officers under his command.

“The aggrieved students are advised to institute appropriate legal proceedings for damages and compensation against the state,” ODDP said after concurring with the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) recommendations.

The directive followed deliberate efforts by both the police and the University administration to frustrate probe into the brutality that led to the inability of the IPOA to establish the identity of the officers who physically and sexually attacked the students.

Under Section 6(a) of the IPOA Act, the authority can investigate complaints and make recommendations to relevant authorities including recommendations for prosecution, compensation, and internal disciplinary action, among others.

During the protest that followed the declaration of Babu Owino as the SONU chairman after beating Mike Jacobs, the SONU offices were torched and the DPP has now directed the Central Nairobi Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss to investigate the circumstances that led to the fire at the offices.

IPOA however could not identify the officers who assaulted the students due to lack of cooperation from the University and the Police headquarters.

Several students were arrested and taken to Central police station but were later released following an order from the then Nairobi Region Police Commander Japheth Koome.

Mr. Koome told the investigators that his office received a letter from the UoN on March 24 requesting him to organise for security during the SONU elections. He appointed Mr Mboloi, the former Kasarani OCPD to be the operations commander.

“There were clear instructions to police officers not to enter the university premises,” Koome said.

On April 15, IPOA requested for the CCTV footage covering the State House Road. The then Inspector General Joseph Boinnet replied three months later, on July 22, that the area was not covered by CCTV.

The probe further revealed that the University administration intimidated the students who were victims, from cooperating with the investigators.

Instead, the University wrote to the police to institute investigations aimed at establishing criminal culpability of some of the students.

Another challenge was that the officerS did not have name tags and could not be easily identified.

All security officers from Lavington Security confirmed that officers stormed the university premises but denied having seen students being assaulted.

One of them, Fredrick Nyongesa Opondo only said that he saw students ordered to form a single file and ordered out of the hostels.

Senior commanders including Koome, former Kilimani OCPD Peter Kattam, former Central OCPD Paul Wanjama, and others stated that they did not know who deployed the GSU officers, adding that they were under their command.

The investigations by the IPOA revealed gross violation of human rights and misconduct on the part of the police officers who were deployed to quell the protests.

On April 2, 2016, some of the students including those who lost the election started protesting, prompting the anti-riot officers to be called in.

The officers however attacked even students who were not protesting. According to IPOA, some of the students were removed from the Architecture, Design, and Development (A.D.D) Building and taken to the road where they were assaulted.

Some of the female students were even sexually and indecently assaulted. Some of the police officers went to Hall 5 where they forcefully ejected the students from the rooms and brought them to Lower State House road where they were forced to roll on the ground.

One of the victims, Ken Mulu Kyunga, suffered losses after officers lobbed teargas in his room and it caught fire. “The student reported at Kileleshwa police station and was issued with a police abstract,” the report says.

Two students, including Daniel Muli Muthui, suffered fractures. A female police officer at the Central police station on noticing that Muthui had a broken leg, released him to go and seek medical treatment.

That day, ten students were treated at the UoN’s medical facility while four others were transferred to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH)

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