A Bondo court has ordered area police boss Abdikadir Yusuf to surrender equipment confiscated from two journalists who were arrested while on duty.
Mr Brian Ondeng’ (KNA) and Geoffrey Oguma (Radio Nam Lolwe) spent the night in the police cells and were on Tuesday morning charged with police obstruction. The two were apprehended while covering the arrest of a shylock in Bondo town on Monday afternoon.
Police claimed the shylock had been operating illegally and carrying out auctions without following procedures. But Mr Ondeng’ and Mr Oguma told the court that they were beaten up before being arrested and forced to spend the night in police cells.
“I identified myself as a journalist and asked the officers to allow us to perform our duty but while I was fishing out my job card, the OCS punched me on the right cheek and instructed his junior to deal with us before arresting us,” said Mr Ondeng’.
The officer, who did not make records of the items in the police occurrence book, presented himself in court on Tuesday afternoon following summons. He admitted that he had the journalists’ items and said he would return them. The items included Media Council of Kenya identity cards, two mobile phones and a camera. Principal Magistrate Moses Obiero ordered that the police officer submits the items in court by 9am on Wednesday.
The scribes denied the charge before Principal Magistrate Mr Moses Obiero and were released on a Sh10,000 cash bail each pending the hearing on January 22, 2019. Mr Obiero ordered that Mr Yusuf present himself before court to shed more light on the allegations leveled against him.
Meanwhile, Kenya Union of Journalists Secretary General Erick Oduor and Kisumu Journalists’ Network chairman Rushdie Oudia have raised concerns about police attacks on journalists.
Mr Oduor posed: “Why would officers deliberately target and injure unarmed journalists performing their duty to inform the public, especially when they have identified themselves. This is unacceptable.”
He called upon the Independent Policing Oversight Authority to take up the matter and bring the officers involved to book.
Mr Oudia asked the journalists not to be cowed by such incidents.
“I call upon our counterparts from Siaya and the entire country not to be shaken or intimidated by acts of cowardice. Let us stand firm in carrying out our duties and report any such incidents to relevant authorities, including the network,” he said.