Mutyambai put on the spot over night evictions

Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Inspector General of Police  Hillary Mutyambai was hard-pressed to explain why his officers carried out night evictions from county houses.    

Mr Mutyambai, who appeared before the Senate Devolution and Intergovernmental Committee yesterday after failing to honour earlier summonses, maintained that due process was followed in the eviction of Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company staff from the houses in Pumwani and Eastleigh.

“Police do not carry out evictions, let me make that clear. Matters land are civil cases. We only come in play on request by a court order, which is very specific and defines the role of the police, and so we only follow the instructions,” he said.

But the committee wondered why it had not been given the eviction notice, with witnesses claiming they were kicked out six days after a notice was written on the walls.

“Why isn’t anyone giving us the notices that were served for the eviction?” said committee chairman Moses Kajwang’ (Homa Bay).

“You did not even confirm if there was a notice. Isn’t that the procedure before such orders are executed? It’s inhumane to effect the orders immediately without wanting to know the nature of the people living there.’’

Mr Mutyambai argued that the court orders were issued by a Principal Magistrate on June 3, last year, to Pangani and Shauri Moyo police stations, asking them to provide security.

Witnesses speak

Witnesses said demolitions were supervised by the police at night. They claimed this  happened after police toured and erected signs that indicated the National Police Service owned the land.

Ms Pamela Odongo, recounted how the  Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and police vehicles arrived on the night of June 7, last year, and started destroying property.

“Lights were switched off and NMS vehicles and police moved in and started questioning why we were yet to vacate. I remember it was heavily raining. I suddenly realised my door was missing and the boys were very rude. Remember it was curfew hours. We had to seek shelters in churches for weeks,’’ she told the committee. The Assembly Christian Church Pumwani and Wings of Life faithful claimed they had occupied the land for close to two decades.

Mr Mutyambai promised to ensure that police do due diligence before enforcing eviction orders.

“We will have further consultations with the Attorney General so that we verify the court orders,” he said.

Deputy IG Kingori Mwangi apologised on behalf of the force.

The committee also revoked the Sh500,000 fine it had imposed on Mutyambai for failure to honour summonses. The police boss asked the panel to pardon him, saying he had been misled by some of his staff in on the dates.

“One of my staff misinformed me on the actual date I was supposed to appear before the committee. I was informed that I was required to appear on March 17, but action has since been taken and that will not recur,” he said.

“I take this opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to uphold the rule of law and to honour the next summons of this committee whenever they are issued.”

He had been summoned alongside NMS Director General Mohamed Badi and Nairobi City Governor Ann Kananu.

Garissa Senator Abdul Haji urged the police to do due diligence before rushing to evict.

“All we are asking for is that can you conduct these demolitions in a more humane way. You are hurting so many people along the way, most of whom are innocent,” he said.