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Citizen Weekly

Thursday, 8 January 2015

POLICE DISARM SONKO GUARDS

Four police bodyguards attached to Nairobi Senator Mike Mbuvi Sonko have been disarmed, pending unspecified disciplinary action against them, after two of them were pictured brandishing automatic rifles while not in uniform.
On Tuesday morning, outside the Lee Funeral Home, two of Sonko’s bodyguards jumped out of chase cars in his entourage, totting AK-47 and causing a stir among a crowd who had turned up to view the body of the late Fidel Castro Odinga.
Two bodyguards had accompanied Sonko to join the bereaved former Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua who was removing his mother’s body from the morgue for burial. In a scene resembling a location set of Wild West movies, the bodyguards, with rifles at the ready, sandwiched their boss who was flanked by youths wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the logo ‘Team Sonko’.
Police and the government appeared to have been embarrassed by the scene as they reacted yesterday with statements aimed at curbing such macho display unfettered power and impunity.
Acting Inspector General (IG) of Police Samuel Arachi yesterday condemned the act, terming it a criminal offence as he said all four police bodyguards in Sonko’s security had been disarmed and would be subjected to disciplinary action. “Such action by police officers guarding the senator cannot be allowed.
It is criminal and the identified officers have been disarmed and disciplined. They were disarmed on Wednesday evening when we learnt about the incident,” Arachi told the People Daily. He added: “Police should have arrested the senator immediately the incident took place, but it seems some officers fear him for reasons not known to us.
Acting IG Samuel Arachi and Senator Sonko.
Acting IG Samuel Arachi and Senator Sonko.
It has to be clear that nobody will be allowed to use the President’s name in intimidating Kenyans and police must not treat anyone as a sacred cow.” Arachi, who spoke to the People Daily on the telephone, said according to police Standing Orders, only officers in uniform are allowed to display weapons such as AK-47 and other guns.
He said such a display of weaponry in a calm public place was a threat to the country’s peace and stability. “This can only happen in war-prone countries like Afghanistan and Syria.
Kenya is nowhere near there, some things cannot be allowed at all,” the police boss said. But Sonko declined to comment on the issue, and instead referred us to the police.
“There is no law I have broken, and if there is any, you ask the police,” Sonko said before hanging up. Transport Cabinet secretary Michael Kamau weighed in with his own statement telling police to impound all vehicles bearing unauthorised, personalised number plates. “It has come to the attention of the government that certain vehicles operating on public roads bear unauthorised, personalised and unprescribed number plates,” said Eng Kamau.
He said owners of any vehicle bearing such number plates risks being arrested and charged with an offence that could attract a Sh500,000 fine, a five year jail term or both. The vehicle in which Sonko rode on Tuesday was branded with his personalised number plate, ‘Sonko 1’. However, it was not clear if his is authorised.
The Tuesday gun display incident was not the first one by Sonko as last May, when he was involved in a fracas with Nairobi Women’s Rep Rachael Shebesh at the Caribea Club in Wood Avenue, his security guards flashed automatic rifles.
His bodyguards have also been spotted flashing the weapons frequently in different occasions, including at Karen during a land tussle, at Buru Buru estate whenever the senator is visiting social joints and recently during a Christmas party at his Shanzu home, Mombasa.
National Gun Owners Association of Kenya (NGAO Kenya) also expressed their concerns on the issue and urged Interior Cabinet secretary Joseph Nkaissery and the IG to take stern action against persons misusing their firearms.
“We have noted with concern the recent incidents of misuse of firearms by licensed firearms holders. Guns are not meant for use during domestic disputes, in public places, during road-rage conflict, or where the danger is not imminent to the owner of the firearm, their family or their property.
Firearms are especially not to be used when the owner is intoxicated,” said NGAO Kenya Secretary General Anthony Wahome. Former Lugari MP Cyrus Jirongo is the latest civilian firearm holder to be involved in gun drama after he allegedly shot at Good Samaritans who were helping him around the Arboretum along State House Road where his car had stalled at 2am.