Four officers in trouble as police extortion during curfew rises


A Ruiru resident took to social media to narrate his experience at the hands of police after he was arrested shortly past 10pm for violating curfew.

Photo credit: File

Four officers from Ruiru Police Station will this morning be arraigned at the Kiambu Law Courts for allegedly extorting Sh1,030 from a member of public while enforcing the 10pm-4am curfew.

The four were arrested on Tuesday alongside an M-Pesa shop owner and his attendant following complaints by the victim on social media. The duo will aid detectives in the investigation into the officers' conduct.

The victim, a Ruiru resident, took to social media to narrate his experience at the hands of police after he was arrested shortly past 10pm for violating curfew.

He said one of the officers took his phone and asked for his M-Pesa PIN. The officer then proceeded to check the amount available on his phone before transferring Sh1,030 to a number registered under the name Martin Ndichu Kamau, he said.

According to the resident, the police officer then deleted the message confirming the transfer to prevent the owner from reversing the transaction. Usually, Safaricom subscribers can reverse an M-Pesa transaction by sending the confirmation text to 456.

“I had no other money on me and was forced to spend the night in my office. Taking control of my phone and demanding the PIN is a violation of my privacy, data and confidentiality,” he said in the post.

 He then called on Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai to discipline the officer involved.

 “Sh1,030 is too little, but to my family, it was a meal, shelter, security and assurance of a better day ahead,” he added.

 The complaint caught the attention of senior police commanders in Kiambu who ordered a probe into the alleged incident, including retrieving data from Safaricom which linked four officers to the incident.

“Upon scrutiny of the data, four police constables were arrested at Ruiru police station and are to be charged with robbery with violence upon completion of investigations,” a police report stated.

 Detectives will be seeking to hold them for five working days to complete the probe before they can be formally charged.

 Complaints of extortion by police officers enforcing curfew rules have been on the rise, with victims saying they demand hard cash or opt to use M-Pesa. At times, the extortion involves collusion with third parties such as M-Pesa agents.

Victims say rogue officers demand that they withdraw money from particular M-Pesa agents or make payments to certain till numbers to avoid detection.

In yet another case that is under investigations, officers from Parklands Police Station are reported to have assaulted a man at City Park and forced him to withdraw Sh2,000 from an M-Pesa agent.

The agent number was later traced to an M-Pesa shop within Parklands Police station.

In other cases, those arrested are forced to “pay” for fuel using certain till numbers as unlucky ones get their P-Pesa balance wiped out and the confirmation message deleted before they are set free.

In others, it is reported that those who are arrested but refuse to pay bribes are booked into police stations and released only when they fork out some money for their freedom.