IPOA recommends charges for 30 police officers in just three months
Seen by many as a toothless bulldog, Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) has in the last three months recommended that 30 police officers be charged with various offences.
This is the highest number of rogue officers recommended for charging.
During the same period, two police officers in IPOA’s case were jailed for 10 years each.
From August to October, IPOA listed 24 officers suspected of being involved in causing the death of eight people across the country.
Four of the officers are to answer to charges of causing the disappearance of one person in Nairobi while one officer is accused of defiling a minor in Kiambu County.
In the most recent case, six officers were charged with murder over the death of Sylvanus Oree Owinji in Homabay County on September 17, 2017.
Police constables Bernard Maritim, Michael Ochango, Edwin Maenga, Silas Anyira, Steven Owiro, and Wycliffe Cheptoo suspected that Owinji was growing and selling bhang. They stormed his home in Kochia, HomaBay, to arrest him.
According to IPOA investigations, the deceased resisted arrest and the officers allegedly descended on him with beatings.
Despite him sustaining serious injuries, the police officers took him to Rangwe police station. The OCS refused to have him detained given the injuries he had sustained. He ordered that he be taken to Homabay Referral Hospital where he succumbed to the injuries the next day.
“During the arrest, the police officers used force and, consequently, Owinji sustained injuries, which a pathologist determined to be the cause of death,” said IPOA Chairperson Anne Makori in a statement.
Five of the six officers were arraigned on November 3, except for Maenga who had since exited the service. IPOA said an arrest warrant had been issued against him so that he could plead to the charges.
In another incident, four police constables have been charged with the disappearance of Philip Otieno Ondiro, who was last seen on February 1, 2015.
This was after IPOA on October 28, 2021, recommended their prosecution afte investigations revealed that four men armed with guns stormed an entertainment joint in Kiamaiko within Huruma, Nairobi. They then pulled out Ondiro, bundled him into a waiting car, and drove off.
Ondiro’s mother Pamela Ondiro said four plainclothes police officers arrested her son. They picked him from a local entertainment joint where he was watching a football match on February 1, 2015, at around 6 pm.
“We do not know where they took him. We searched in almost all police stations and mortuaries. We are yet to find him,” the mother told local media.
She said on the evening of the arrest, Philip called her through his mobile phone and sounded as though in distress, but his phone was immediately disconnected and switched off.
“His phone has been unreachable since then,” Pamela said.
This is the first case where police officers will be charged for an enforced disappearance in the country.
On October 26, 2021, police Sergeant Jacob Ojiambo was charged with defiling a class eight girl on April 14, 2019, in Kiambu County. Court ordered a warrant of arrest against his brother, a civilian co-accused.
Sergeant Ojiambo was charged at the Githunguri Law Courts in the case where together with his brother Dismas Mujibu a minor.
According to IPOA, the officers allegedly defiled the minor at the officer’s house within Mitahato AP Camp where the officer lived with his brother, a tutor, well known to the girl.
In other incidents that occurred on November 12, 2017, and August 15, 2013, four police officers were charged with the deaths of two men in separate occurrences in Nairobi and Mombasa.
The four; Sergeant Charles Mwakio, Corporal Julia Kimbiyo, Constable Peter Kananu, and Constable Lewis Msuya were accused of assaulting and killing Said Ibrahim and Leonard Muramba.
Constable Msuya who is accused of Ibrahim’s murder was arraigned at Milimani Law Courts on October 25 and the court extended his detention by 10 days.
Makori said they recommended to the DPP that Mwakio and Kimbiyo be charged with manslaughter following an inquest. She said they also advised Constable Kananu will be subjected to a disciplinary proceeding for negligence in the performance of what led to the death of Muramba.
On August 26, 2021, an Inspector of Police was charged with the murder of Tony Katana, a secondary school student at Uwanja wa Mbuzi, Kongowea in Mombasa on August 12, 2016.
John Otieno is accused of shooting and killing Katana while dismissing a crowd in the market. At the time of the incident, Katana was 16 years old and a Form Two student at Havard’s Secondary School.
The shooting was witnessed by among others, police officers on patrol duties as well as some of the student’s friends who had accompanied him to a night wedding in the area.
Otieno who was a Sergeant at the time attached to Nyali police station, Mombasa, was remanded at Port Police station until September 7, 2021, before he was arraigned.
The incident prompted an investigation after the student’s body was discovered and identified by relatives at the Coast General Hospital mortuary a day after the shooting.
Otieno’s arraignment came just days after IPOA recommended that some five officers implicated in the death of a matatu tout, Caleb Esipino Otieno, be arrested and charged with murder, in September 9, 2021.
Caleb died in a cell at Changamwe Police Station on September 18, 2018, under mysterious circumstances shortly after he was arrested and detained at the station.
IPOA investigators named Constables Khalifa Abdullahi, James Muli, Joseph Sirawa, Edward Kongo, and Nelson Nkanae as suspects in the case.
He was allegedly arrested at a nightclub the previous evening only to be found dead the following morning. A post-mortem report indicated he had suffered multiple injuries in his head, the upper cervical spine of the neck, and chest.
The report also indicated a fracture due to blunt force trauma, bleeding in the brain, and injury in the upper spinal cord. He was reported dead on arrival at the hospital and marked where he had been taken.
On August 18, two police officers were charged with the murder of Vitalis Owino Ochillo alias Madaraka on May 3, 2020.
Inspector Daniel Musau and Corporal Robert Mwangi Kibororo were arrested on August 17, 2021, and placed in custody at Capitol Hill police station, Nairobi.
Owino’s widow Esther Achieng said her husband had left the house to respond to nature’s call and to buy dinner but never returned.
“We do not have toilets where we stay so we walk to Mradi where there are some public pay toilets. He said he needed to go there and would bring supper with him on the way back,” Achieng’ said.
The officers allegedly bludgeoned and left him for dead for contravening curfew orders at around 7 pm, at Mradi area, Mathare North in Nairobi. He later succumbed to the injuries.
Their arrest comes a day after the arrest and arraignment of six police officers involved in the murder of the Kianjokoma brothers; Benson Njiru and Emmanuel Mutura.
The six, Corporals Benson Mbuthia and Consolata Kariuki, Constables Martin Wanyama, Lilian Cherono, Nicholus Sang and James Mwaniki were arraigned on Tuesday in Milimani Law Courts to answer to murder charges.
The officers were detained for 14 days after the ODPP sought to have the suspects detained for two weeks as they completed investigations.
IPOA chairperson said the authority has employed several strategies for the swift delivery of justice for police action victims.
She said IPOA has marshaled their internal capacity including recruitment of more staff, capacity building, and setting up a dedicated rapid response team.
“We have embarked on strengthening collaboration and cooperation with key stakeholders including the DPP and the National Police Service,” she said.