Police wanted to assassinate me during protests, Raila tells court

Azimio leader Raila Odinga at the burial of David Omondi in Gem Siaya county on August 5, 2023. David was shot dead by police in Nairobi during Azimio protest against the high cost of living. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Azimio leader Raila Odinga told the High Court on Friday there was a plan to assassinate him during the protests that rocked the country early this year.

In a case filed by his lawyer Paul Mwangi, the former Prime Minister for the first time gave finer details of what happened on March 29.

He said that his vehicle was shot at 10 times.

Raila filed an affidavit in support of the case filed by Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition party seeking accountability over 75 persons who were killed during the protests.

In its case, Azimio singled out the Inspector General of Police Japheth Koome and the National Police Service Commission (NPSC), saying they should bear responsibility for the maiming and killing of protestors.

"The issue of police brutality in Kenya is an old one and has become synonymous with the police in the country. I personally survived an assassination attempt executed by the members of the National Police Service on March 29, 2023, when my vehicle was targeted with about 10 rounds of live ammunition as I participated in the demonstration," said Raila.

He said that this year was the worst in Kenya's history owing to the derogation of human rights by the police.

"The petitioner has also identified hundreds of serious injuries mainly from gunshots and other lethal means and is continuing to collect details nationwide on the same. All these deaths and injuries have been caused and maliciously inflicted by members of the National Police Service," said the former PM.

The party claimed the killing and maiming was both systematic and systemic, and was out of clear instructions from senior police officers.

It argued that NPSC is a lame duck and cannot hold any officer to account for the atrocities meted out by Azimio supporters.

"The current situation in Kenya is grave and the National Police Service now has the power of life and death over any Kenyan. I believe that at this moment in time, only the judiciary can protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the people of Kenya from derogation of the National Police Service," he added.

Azimio court papers claim that the 75 persons whom it listed were killed in a span of five months.

It said Koome banned the protests despite notifications being issued by the Azimio leaders.

The party stated that despite the police being identified and seen while killing and maiming Kenyans, the IG came out to claim that Azimio had hired dead bodies during protests in order to taint the police image.

"There are hundreds of other persons who were injured during the demonstrations when members of the second respondent unleashed violence on them. The petition seeks justice for the seventy-five deceased persons and their families and for any other persons deceased or injured, who were victims of police brutality during the said period," said Mwangi.

Further, Mwangi argued that the responsibility for police actions lies with the police bosses.

He said the court should find that any person deemed to be a commander in the police should be held accountable for a life lost in the hands of their juniors.

Mwangi urged any police officer in the service who takes command of a police unit, either on an ad hoc, temporary, or permanent basis to be a commander.

[email protected]