A total of 21 detectives who served under a recently disbanded unit of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) have been summoned to the Internal Affairs Unit (IAU) headquarters in Nairobi.
The officers who had been attached to the Special Services Unit (SSU), whose ranks range from corporal to Inspector of Police, have been asked to report unarmed to the IAU headquarters at Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Towers in Upper Hill, Nairobi County today Friday, October 21, 2022.
"On arrival, they will report at the reception desk...where they will be guided accordingly. They will also be interviewed and record further statements. Also, inform them that no firearms are allowed within KCB Towers premises," a police signal seen by Nation reads.
The IAU handles complaints filed against police officers and recommends punishment for those who are found to have committed professional transgressions.
The Nation has concealed the name of the officers for legal reasons.
This comes amid complaints by some of the officers that they were being subjected to unnecessary questioning by IAU officers over their alleged involvement in extra-judicial killings that have been witnessed across the country since the formation of the elite squad in 2019.
Some complained that though they operated on orders from their superiors, the commander of the unit, whom they did not name, was yet to be grilled by the IAU.
“We were not working of our own volition. The squad had a leader who was aware of every operation that we carried out day in, day out and it would be important to question that leader as well. We are being tried on things that we don’t understand, yet we are known to work on orders that are issued to us,” said a member of the squad who spoke in confidence due to the sensitivity of the matter.
Another officer, who was among the best-trained members of the elite unit, said the public was always notified on what the unit was involved in.
The officer also wondered why they were being grilled and not their leaders.
“For two days we have been questioned on things that we really don’t understand. All we are hearing are matters relating to extra-judicial killings. On such sensitive issues it would be better for the questioning to start from the top downwards,” said the other officer.
The SSU, which handled organised crime and robberies, is associated with former DCI boss George Kinoti.
The Nation learnt that despite the many hours of questioning, very little had been gathered in connection with the disappearance of two Indians identified as Mr Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan and Mr Mohamed Zaid Sami Kidwai, as well as their Kenyan driver, Mr Nicodemus Mwania Mwange.
By Thursday afternoon, a total of 12 officers had been questioned.
In what appears to be a classic case of the hunter becoming the hunted, last weekend all the officers attached to the disbanded unit were recalled, suspended and put on 24-hour surveillance.
They were further given specific dates when they should be reporting to the IAU headquarters as investigations into the disappearance of the two foreigners and their driver, which has drawn the attention of President William Ruto, continues.
Since Monday, the officers have been at pains to explain their whereabouts on the date when the two foreigners and their driver were abducted along Mombasa Road and the grey Toyota Fielder they had been driving in abandoned on the highway with all the doors wide open.
According to police sources, the men who abducted the three wore face masks and were armed.
The matter was being investigated by DCI officers attached to Lang’ata Police Station until questions were raised on the ability of police officers to objectively investigate their colleagues.
A Nairobi court ordered that the case file be handed over to the IAU, which was at the time headed by the newly appointed DCI boss Amin Mohamed Ibrahim.
Yesterday, the Police Reforms Working Group- Kenya (PRWG-K) issued a statement saying its attention had been drawn to a public admission by President William Ruto of the government’s culpability and complicity in extra-judicial executions and enforced disappearances.
Speaking in Kericho on Sunday, just hours after the disbandment of the elite group, President Dr Ruto said he had issued the orders that the unit be disbanded as it had turned into a killer squad.
The PRWG-K group brings together several human rights agencies. They include Amnesty International Kenya, Defenders Coalition, Katiba Institute, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), The Kenyan Section of International Commission of Jurists (ICJ Kenya), International Justice Mission (IJM-K), Haki Africa and Kariobangi Paralegal Network.
Others are; Women Empowerment Link, Social Welfare Development Program (SOWED), Independent Medical Legal Unit (IMLU), Fedaration of Women Lawyers (FIDA- Kenya), International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ- Kenya), Social Justice Centers Working Group (SJCW), Usalama Reforms Forum and Transparency International Kenya.
The group said a total of 107 people had been killed by the police and ten others had disappeared without a trace.
“We highly welcome the presidential admission and the promise to rid our police service of the culture of impunity, criminality, arbitrary and illegal use of force and firearms. The President’s decision is a strong first step in expressing the political will that has been lacking for decades,” the statement read.
“In addition, we are aware that executions, disappearances, torture and cruel treatment are not only committed by the infamous SSU. It is important for the President to extend this action across all security and policing agencies including the Kenya Forest Service, Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Defence Forces and the Anti- Terrorism Police Unit,” it further read.
The PRWG-K said the disbandment of the discredited unit was not enough, adding that thorough investigations should be carried out on members of the unit and those found culpable prosecuted for individual and command roles in extortion, abductions, kidnappings, torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and other serious crimes.
They also asked President Ruto to make public a report submitted by the IAU that led to the disbandment of the SSU.
Since 2007, Missing Voices Coalition has documented 1,264 cases of executions and 237 cases of enforced disappearance, to which the police were linked.
The cases, the Nation can now reveal, include one in December 2020, when three police officers attached to the SSU were arrested over a robbery and violence incident at a gas depot in Machakos County.
The suspects are said to have also extorted Sh1 million from a businessman in Machakos town.
The officers reportedly received Sh600,000 from the management of the gas depot after threatening to arrest the workers.
Senior general-duty police officers in Nairobi then went ahead and arrested the three, who were at the SSU headquarters in Upper Hill, Nairobi County.
They were locked up at the Nairobi Capitol Hill Police Station.
And on December 7, 2022, officers from the squad allegedly shot dead six suspects of robbery with violence on the Nyahururu- Nairobi Highway.
In a statement by the DCI, the detectives had information that the suspects were planning to carry out a robbery, whereupon the officers decided to confront and disrupt them from committing the crime.
The statement further indicated the suspects had been challenged to stop, but they opened fire at the officers.
In December 2021, members of the elite squad shot dead two armed suspects as they reportedly attempted to commit a robbery at a supermarket in Ruaka, Kiambu County.
“The thugs, who were armed with a ceska pistol loaded with five rounds of 9mm caliber, opened fire at our detectives,” a statement by the DCI on the matter read in part.