Policeman injured in Kisumu violence
By By EVELYN KWAMBOKA
| January 16th 2013
By EVELYN KWAMBOKA
KISUMU, KENYA: A police officer was shot and injured on his leg by unknown assailants as election related violence broke out in Kisumu.
The incident happened as police moved in to tame violence following the arrest of an ODM aspirant for Kisumu County Assembly representative for allegedly purchasing crude weapons.
The officer who was in the company of his colleagues is nursing the injury in he sustained as he tried to disperse rowdy aspirant’s supporters at the Kisumu Central Police Station.
Police officers lobbed tear gas canisters and fired shots in the air in a bid to disperse the crowd forcing the protesters demanding for Seth Ochieng’ Kanga alias Adui’s release to scamper for safety in the 11PM Tuesday incident.
Kanga who is vying for the Market Milimani Ward seat was arrested after recording a statement with the Criminal Investigations Department, sparking an outcry from his supporters.
Kisumu police boss Musa Kongoli said the man was arrested on suspicion of having bought a large number of weapons comprising of 100 pangas and 50 clubs.
Police feared the weapons were bought with an aim of disrupting the nomination exercise in the area, adding that the suspect could not be released on bond because it was late and risky to do so.
“Nominations in this town have been chaotic in the past and we had to arrest and investigate him,” he said.
Kongoli said the officers on duty at the station tried controlling the youth but had to take action when protesters stormed into the station.
He ordered the officers to ensure there were no movements of people in the town during the night, in order to restore peace.
Earlier, police arrested Kanga’s supporter identified as Steve Ludenyo alias Mada and took him to his house where a thorough search was carried out.
“The officers summoned me to the station, saying I had purchased arrows and pangas. They searched my house but nothing was found. They released me on orders that I report back at the station on Wednesday morning,” he said.
Several ODM aspirants flocked the station to demand Kanga’s release as a group of youth chanted outside the station.
Kisumu gubernatorial aspirant Ruth Odinga led aspirants who demanded Kanga’s release.
The Police station commander Dominic Murau ordered the officers to repulse the crowd, forcing them to lob tear gas canisters.
Gunshots rent the air when the officers saw their colleague injured, causing as a stampede. The officer was rushed to The Aga Khan Hospital for treatment.
With their guns cocked, the officers took control of all roads leading to the station while some of their colleagues charged on the youth who were pelting stones.
Journalists were forced to take cover sprawling on the ground as a stampede ensued.
Ms Odinga said she was disappointed with the manner in which the police handled the situation.
“We have come here to find out why they arrested the aspirant. The youth were not armed and the police should have handled the situation without agitating them,” she said.
The incident brought back memories of the 2007-2008 post election violence with Ms Odinga questioning if the whole Tuesday night incident was instigated by rivals out to create a picture that ODM party is violent party.
“Is there an ulterior motive to portray Kisumu as violent? Kisumu people want a peaceful nomination and election. Let the law take its cause if he is found with the weapons and proven they were meant to cause chaos,” she charged.
Former National Assembly deputy clerk Owino Omolo said one does not require a license to purchase pangas in Kenya.
“Does the law limit the number of pangas one should have in his house? What if somebody else bought the pangas? Somebody should be given the benefit of doubt before being arrested,” he added.
Omolo who is also vying for the Kisumu governor seat said he does not support lawlessness, adding that one should be investigated first before being arrested.
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