MUHURI calls out IG Koome over withdrawal of Azimio leaders’ security, ban on Monday protests

The Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome

The Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome addressing the Media at Jogoo House, Nairobi County on Sunday, March 26, 2023. Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) has said Koome has taken sides in the matter and should be held responsible for any life lost during demos.

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) has rubbished Inspector General of Police Japheth Koome’s ban on the anti-government protests led by the opposition, terming the move ridiculous and a mockery to Kenyans and the Constitution.

In a statement, the human rights body said the IG is not constitutionally mandated to ban demonstrations which are allowed by the law under article 37.

“Every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities. One then wonders, who gave Mr Koome the right to usurp the rights of Kenyans as stated in the constitution and execute them as he wills, as he purports to? We live in a country governed by the rule of law and every Kenyan should follow the law to the letter,” a statement by Muhuri reads in part.

Earlier on Sunday, Mr Koome in a press briefing declared the weekly Azimio’s protests illegal saying the police will be on the lookout and take action against persons who seem to cause chaos.

He said the police will arrest anyone regardless of their social status and drive them off to the cells as they do normal criminals.

“Whoever you are, I will deal with you,” said the IG.

Muhuri says Koome’s reaction to the protests and the subsequent withdrawal of security officers attached to some Azimio leaders shows he has taken sides in a critical security matter.

“Mr Koome should know that it is the right of every Kenyan to get security and protection from the police. It is not a favour but a right… Mr Koome needs to know that the National Police Service is an independent constitutional body mandated by the people of Kenya through the constitution to protect and provide security and serve all Kenyans equally,” the NGO adds.

The organization further took issue with Mr Koome’s remarks about a female officer who was last week accused of being behind the death of a third-year Maseno University student who was shot during the protests in Kisumu.

“Last week on Monday, the police killed a young university student in Maseno. On Sunday, Koome, instead of condemning the act, defended the police officer who allegedly committed the murder. We won’t sit down and watch his behaviour go unchecked. We will sue Mr Koome for gross abuse of the Constitution and for overseeing the murder of innocent Kenyans. The law will catch up with you, and you will be held accountable,” said Muhuri.

The organization in totality dismissed the IG’s Sunday remarks as hot air terming them a red flag in his character as the Inspector General of Police and called on the Independent Policing and Oversight Authority (IPOA) to probe them.

“We request all Kenyans to maintain peace and if they demonstrate, let them be peaceful,” the statement said.