Governor Orengo accuses police of excessive force in managing protesters

Siaya Governor James Orengo. [Collins Oduor,Standard]

Siaya Governor James Orengo has accused the police of using excessive force in managing protesters in the county.

In a statement on Friday, July 21, 2023, Orengo regretted that police brutality against Azimio protesters had left at least nine people with gunshot wounds, with one fatality so far.

“Regrettably, the police, who have a statutory and Constitutional duty to provide security to the demonstrators in the course of undertaking their peaceful demonstrations, decided, without any just cause, to employ excessive use of force by firing live bullets and tear gas canisters on the demonstrators in a bid to disperse them,” said Orengo in a statement.

The most affected regions, he said, were Bondo, Siaya, Ugunja municipalities, and other centers.

 He called on the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to step in for investigations and bring perpetrators to book.

“IPOA should initiate investigations and prefer disciplinary sanctions, including criminal prosecutions where necessary, against officers who will be found to have abused their call of duty and employed the use of excessive and unjustified force on unarmed and peaceful demonstrators within Siaya County,” he said.

Orengo’s statement comes amid protests from civil society groups over the manner the police are managing countrywide protests.

Azimio la Umoja One Kenya has since announced its intention to take legal action against police officers who use excessive force on protesters, resulting in injuries and death during demonstrations.

Addressing a press conference at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Foundation in Nairobi on Tuesday, July 18, Azimio Co-principal Martha Karua said police officers who violated their constitutional duty to protect lives and property during protests will face the law.

“We have instructed our lawyers to prepare and institute legal proceedings against police officers who have gone against their constitutional duty of protecting the lives and property of Kenyans during protests,” said Karua.

The Narc Kenya leader called on citizens to document instances of police brutality and abuse and share the same with their legal team.

Azimio's move comes amid assurance from the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA), which assured that it was actively monitoring the police's conduct during the demonstrations.

 In a statement on Saturday, IPOA also condemned the acts of lawlessness by some members of the public, which it said culminated in the loss of properties and injuries to a number of police officers.

 "IPOA is, therefore, investigating cases reported to us and those undertaken on our own motion, including reported deaths from gunshots, injuries to civilians and police assault, assault of journalists, and arrests of civilians," said IPOA Chairperson Anne Makori.