Kindiki warns politicians against funding criminal gangs

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki at RVA, Kijabe, on a risk assessment and disaster risk mitigation. [Kevin Macharia, Standard]

Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki has raised concern over a worrying trend of organised gangs causing havoc across the country and warned of stern action against leaders funding criminal activities regardless of their political affiliation.

Kindiki who appeared before the Senate plenary to answer questions said that his ministry has opened investigations against politicians in 19 counties over harassment and use of violence against bloggers and opponents in attempt to silence them.

“The national government has set up a special unit within the Directorate of Criminal Investigation to handle such threats and criminal activities being perpetuated against bloggers and people who exercise their freedom of expression through cyberspace and get intimidated or harassed or punished for it,” he said.

The CS acknowledged that there are people who may want to use security officials to suppress divergent political opinions.

The Interior Ministry has received complaints by bloggers and people in cyberspace of threats for expressing divergent political opinions.

He said the ministry has a team that is monitoring content that could be hateful or incite violence and is also responsible for protecting the freedom of expression through cyberspace to ensure that bloggers and other people who express themselves do not attract criminal responses.

Kindiki who was responding to a question by Meru Senator Kathuri Murungi over the status of investigations into the abduction, torture and execution of Meru blogger Daniel Muthiani assured that the government will not allow some individuals to stifle freedom of expression.

“We have active cases we are investigating in 19 counties of political leaders and influential people who have organised teams of people online to harass, intimidate and incite violence using cyberspace, we are committed to taking action for it to serve as a lesson,” he said.

Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi condemned the murder of bloggers and asked the CS to tell the House what his ministry is doing about such cases.

“With the Cabinet Secretary dealing with the case from Meru county we would like to know what the Ministry of Interior has done over numerous other cases involving bloggers which have been reported in the past across the country with nothing done so far,” said Osotsi.

Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo said that there are threats specifically to the bloggers and security agencies are being used by those in power to silence them.

Kindiki revealed that detectives probing the murder of the Meru blogger believe that more people could have been arrested in connection with the incident and they are working to gather more evidence.

The CS said anyone linked with the crime will be punished and vowed to ensure justice to the slain blogger's family.

“Preliminary investigations show this is a complex crime and there could have been other people more than the five arrested in connection with this matter. We are yet to establish direct or circumstantial evidence to launch more charges for other people,” said Kindiki.

Murungi had raised concerns over why the homicide department has not probed the people who paid the five suspects in custody to kill the blogger, wondering why there has not been any link to other people during investigations.

The Meru Senator told the house that the body of the late blogger popularly known as ‘Sniper’ was still lying in the mortuary several months after he was murdered after his family and the community vowed not to bury him until justice is served.

Kindiki told the House that investigations have not been concluded and the murder file of Sniper is still open.

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