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Kenya Police inaction over UoN riots worrying

By The Standard | April 13th 2016

The University of Nairobi administration has suspended 132 students said to be the masterminds behind the riots that rocked the institution last week. This followed contested elections in which the Students' Organisation of Nairobi University (Sonu) elected its officials.

Two days of riots in which rowdy students set an office on fire, stoned motorists and injured pedestrians led to the closure of the university and its constituent colleges. That action was timely in containing wanton destruction. It has since emerged the riots were not entirely about the elections outcome, but rather, were instigated by specific students who the chairman of National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse, John Mututho, claimed reside in hall 9 of the university and are a notorious conduit for drug peddlers on the campus. The students, according to Mr Mututho, have the backing of some police officers. Such claims cannot be taken lightly.

But while Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet denied the allegations, seeking the easy way out of calling on Mr Mututho to stop maligning police officers and instead record a statement with the police, University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Prof Peter Mbithi confirmed that Mr Mututho's assertions were true and the university had reported the case to the police but no action had been taken.

When this is tied to the manner in which the police handled the student's unrest and attempts by the Nairobi police boss stating his mandate did not extend to the students halls of residence at the University of Nairobi, it leaves the police holding the bag. A video clip showing policemen brutally beat rioting University of Nairobi students is yet to be explained by police headquarters. Such brutality cannot be wished away and the police should inform the public what action has been taken against the officers who acted outside their training.

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