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State warns demonstrators targeting security agencies

The government will not tolerate the continued attack on police officers, vandalism of police stations, and destruction of security apparatus by Azimio-led anti-government demonstrators. Interior and National Administration Principal Secretary Dr. Raymond Omollo has warned.

The PS observed that security agencies have borne the brunt in terms of injuries to officers and destruction of security equipment following the frequent demonstrations, a trend he says must stop.

Omollo, who was addressing over 200 chiefs and other NGAOs from Siaya County at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University, said police stations and chiefs’ camps are key institutions because they are the first point of call for anybody faced with a problem.

“If we stone police officers, if we vandalise police stations, or if we burn police vehicles, where does that take us as a society? Because naturally, if there is a problem, that police station or chiefs’ camps become the first stop, and their destruction is something we cannot allow to continue,” Omollo said.

The PS was speaking in the wake of the attack on eleven police stations, damage to fourteen police vehicles, and injuries to forty-eight police officers in Nyanza region during last week’s three-day demonstrations that also saw the home of Bondo township location chief Walter Omollo razed down.

The PS said that the attack on police stations and destruction of security equipment leave the officers in charge without the ability to discharge their duty of protecting lives and property.

“For me, this is where we draw the line because if we destroy those institutions, we make it difficult for the administrators to discharge their responsibilities,” he said.

Omollo said that the attacks on security agencies have been worsened by pronouncements made by a section of leaders in the country, who, he said, need to rethink if their pronouncements are taking the country in the right direction.

“We are at a point where we want to ask ourselves whether that is the way we want to continue as a country or not,” he stated.

The PS appealed to Azimio leaders to follow the law whenever they call for demonstrations because Kenya is a country guided by the rule of law and nobody in the country is above the law, no matter their political stature.

“In a country that is guided by the rule of law, we must bring back sanity and insist that everyone follows the law. The most important thing is that we all abide by the rule of law. There is no debate about that, “he said.

The PS, who was flanked by Nyanza Regional Commissioner Ms. Florence Mworoa, said that although demonstrations are constitutional, they must not be used to trample on the rights of people who do not want to be part of the demonstrations, and the organisers must ensure they are peaceful and unarmed and inform the police of the timelines of the demonstrations.

“So when people protest, they must be unarmed, it must be peaceful, and anything to the contrary borders on criminal action, and whenever there are criminal actions, we go back to the same constitution that allows picketing,” he said.

Omollo, on the other hand, asked the media to uphold professionalism in reporting the anti-government demonstrations by remaining objective and impartial to avoid blowing information out of proportion.

“It is also important to guard against blowing things out of proportion. This is where the media comes in. You must remain objective and impartial in reporting whatever goes on in the country, especially during the demonstration,” he said.

Mworoa assured the chiefs in the region that they have the full backing of the President for the crucial role they are playing and asked them not to be cowed by the incident where a chief’s home was entirely razed down by demonstrators in Bondo.

Gem MP Mr. Elisha Odhiambo, who represented the host MP Dr. Gideon Ochanda in the meeting, expressed gratitude for the exemplary work done by the chiefs in the Nyanza region, especially during the demonstrations.

“With you on the ground, we can go to sleep knowing we are fully protected. We can never be the same without your services, which keep us and our property safe. We appreciate your effort in maintaining peace in the region, which cannot be overlooked,” said Odhiambo.

By Brian Ondeng

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