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Rare moments when the much-maligned police outdid themselves

By Patrick Mureu | Published Wed, February 28th 2018 at 00:00, Updated February 27th 2018 at 23:50 GMT +3
Police officers cane a Nasa supporter during a planned prayer rally for the victims of police brutality along Manyanja road in Nairobi on Tuesday 28/11/17. [Photo by Boniface Okendo/Standard]

At a time when there’s a dearth of good deeds at the national stage, some events that seem normal in normal times inspire some reflections. It is during such reflections that one discovers the hidden goodness, or badness, in their surrounding that should give them a reason to appreciate what they have and work to get what they need.

Two unrelated events in the last couple of weeks, especially, come to mind. In the first, a couple that had just been blessed with twins visited the country’s biggest public referral hospital. When the mother fell ill a fortnight after delivering, she went to seek treatment but got more than they expected.

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When Job Ouko and his wife Jane Kerubo visited Kenyatta National Hospital on that fateful Sunday night, carrying their two-week old daughter and son, they hoped they will shortly walk out with Kerubo’s medical problem sorted out. But after the usual discomforting KNH bureaucracy and often-complained-about not-so- efficient service, the couple realised one of their children, the son, was missing. He had been stolen and no one could explain how. Mr Ouko and Ms Kerubo were devastated.

Two days after going public about their predicament, however, Job and Jane got their baby back, alive and well. It was all joy again for this young family.

Neighbouring Somalia

In the same week, a plan by a group of anarchists to kill hundreds of Kenyans in Nairobi was nipped in the bud. One of them was killed and two arrested at final stages of their nefarious mission.

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On Sunday, the country woke up to a “small” story that security agencies had foiled a terror attack planned for the city after a vehicle carrying the lethal equipment was intercepted in Merti, Isiolo County.

Reports indicate that the arsenal had been assembled by terror group Al Shabaab at El-Adde in neighbouring Somalia. Now, for those who might have forgotten, El-Adde is where tens of our Kenya Defence Forces officers and soldiers were massacred by the terrorists on January 15, 2016.

I must say I was dissapointed by how our editors initially failed to see that as a big story and treat it accordingly.

According to reports, the “bomb on wheels” intercepted that Wednesday evening could bring down a one-storey building so easily. If exploded in a crowded place as it was intended, that bomb alone could kill over a thousand people. But it wasn’t just the bomb.  Police reports say there were also 36 grenades and five AK 47 rifles with 36 fully loaded magazines. A magazine carries 30 bullets. Also found were “36 unprimed hand grenades, 18 IEDs and three millitary knives”.

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Real heroes

This means the terror merchants were planning a massive operation! They would denote the bomb and kill atleast 1,000 people. Then they would wait for the ensuing melee and start shooting those running away and towards the scene, as Kenyans are wont to do in such circumstances, and open a shooting spree until they run out of the 1080 bullets. 1080 bullets can kill 1080 people. Then three of the terrorists would embark on a stabbing mission using the “military knives”. The spectacle would be too painful to imagine, the headlines too scary! But it didn’t happen, fortunately.

It is, however, important to acknowledge the fact that it was a deliberate sequence of events that made it possible for the massacre not to materialise. It is at such a time that the nation should identify and applaud its real heroes, the heroes that saved the lives of their compatriots even without knowing them.

The role of the ordinary citizen is the saving grace in both the two momentous events above. It was the person who reported a lady with a child that did not look like it was hers in Kawangware that led to the reunion of Job and Jane with their lost son. It was also the villagers in Merti that spotted the strange car in a thicket and reported to authorities that eventually led to the foiling of the potential killer attack. Indeed here security began with you! But it is the role of the country’s security agencies and agents that need to be celebrated. Can we imagine what would have happened if an officer within the counter terrorism arrangement would have chosen to ignore a sign and fail to act?

May God bless and protect our police, KDF, National Intelligence Service and all members of the security system as they continue to work and assure us some peaceful sleep. May we also keep performing our civic duty and give the information the agencies need to protect us.