Soldiers, police in scuffle at Likoni channel

Screengrab of the cuffle at the Likoni crossing channel. [Courtesy]

The five soldiers involved in a scuffle with police officers on Saturday at the Likoni crossing channel tried to gain entry into the ferry using the exit, sparking a confrontation.

Multiple interviews revealed that the soldiers tried to force their way in after they failed to convince a private guard to allow them in because they were in a hurry.

Although most dignitaries, military and police vehicles use the exit during peak time, the guard said the soldiers would obstruct vehicles.

“Dignitaries and military vehicles always use the exit to enter the ferry. The guard refused to give way even after one of the soldiers alighted from the vehicle to talk to him,” said a witness.

He said the other four soldiers alighted from the van after the guard called police officers to help him and members of the public started charging towards the scene and the soldiers.

“Members of the public who witnessed the incident also started to approach the military vehicle. Some had started to collect stones. It could have turned ugly,” he said.

A trader who witnessed the incident added: “I could hear the soldiers complaining that the police and guards were inciting members of the public against them.”

A report filed at the Ferry Police Station identified the soldiers as naval officers from the Kenya Navy who were on a military tactical Land Cruiser that was crossing from the island to Likoni.

“The Land Cruiser approached from town and blocked the exit lane and naval officers jumped out of the vehicle and started assaulting the security guard who sought assistance from the police who were providing security at the lock-up,” states the police report.

It states that the police, who tried to intervene, were also assaulted by the soldiers. The private security guard assaulted was Wilson Obege of Istmax Guard.

Efforts to reach Mr Obege proved futile as his phone was switched off. A source at the Likoni Police Station said he had gone to a hospital to seek treatment and fill out P3 forms.

“He sustained injuries as a result of the attack. Members of the public wanted to attack the military personnel but were contained by police officers,” states the report.

In the video clip that has since gone viral, a soldier is seen slapping a security guard before he runs to a police officer who was approaching a charged crowd, chanting against the soldiers.

The witness said the other four soldiers scared away members of the public who were charging towards their colleague.

In a brief statement, KDF said the military police and other investigating agencies were handling the matter, adding that the incident was “highly regrettable".

“As KDF personnel, we are beholden to the core value of professionalism,” stated the statement from KDF.

KDF has had a tighter security routine at the Likoni crossing channel since 2013 when cases of terrorism increased at the Coast.

In 2019, during Heroes Day at Mama Ngina Drive, the naval forces had a similar confrontation with the police and the residents.

The Saturday incident at the Likoni channel was the second one after police in Kilifi also reported that they had arrested a soldier for assaulting a police officer from Kambe Ribe Police Station.

A report from Kambe Police Station indicates that the soldier from 6 Brigade Garissa obstructed the police from arresting his cousin wanted for an assault case.