Police: We can handle Tana

By Allan Kisia

Police have dismissed calls by politicians to have the military deployed to Tana Delta to quell violent clashes that has so far left about 100 people dead.

Police deputy spokesman Charles Owino said the military is not needed in Tana Delta because the country is not at war.

He said police officers are capable of handling the situation, only that they have not been given the go ahead to use force.

Owino said the instructions should come from the Cabinet and not the President or Prime Minister.

“We want collective responsibility so that we are not implicated like after the 2007 events which saw one of our senior go to The Hague,” he explained.

 “What will the military go to do there? Build houses. We just need instructions from the Cabinet to use force,” he added.

Owino said police deployed in Tana have tried level best to resolve the problems in non-violent ways.

“We may use firearms today and then tomorrow you say we are trigger happy. You will then call for the setting up a tribunal to investigate us,” he explained.

He further explained that with Cabinet approval, there will be a collective responsibility and the police will not stand to be accused alone.

“No Kenyan would have believed the lives of the nine officers were at risk, not until after they were killed. If the nine officers would have shot their attackers, people would have said they acted irresponsibly,” he added.

He said General Service Unit officers are able to deal with the situation in Tana.

“The nature of the attacks show these are primitive criminals whom we can handle,” he added.

He lashed out at those who are accusing the police of being ineffective.

Owino made the remarks at ministry of Information offices in Nairobi during press conference by the National Steering Committee on Media Monitoring.

Other members of the committee present were Mary Ombara and Joseph Owiti.

The police spokesman said they are yearning to get instructions from the Cabinet to use force now because locals in Tana are not listening to them.

He promised that officers will be professional in their work if they are given the go ahead.

He further said the military is engaged in Somalia and should not be burdened with something the police can handle.

“Do you think the GSU is incapable of dealing with the situation,” he posed.

Owiti, who is the director of Information at the ministry termed media reporting on the situation in Tana as worrying.

“We keep mentioning tribes and this raises emotions,” he explained.

Ombara attributed the violence to hate speech and incitement perpetrated by leaders for political gain.