At least 27 University of Nairobi students are nursing injuries following a brutal attack on them by police last Thursday evening.
The institution’s director of Corporate Affairs John Orindi confirmed that the students were injured during the fracas in which police were captured on camera assaulting students in their hostels, lecture halls and within the university.
However, he dismissed as untrue reports on social media that a student died in the chaos.
A spot check by the Nation and conversations with students found no proof that a student died from the beatings when police stormed the campus as they tried to stop students from protesting the arrest of a former leader and now Embakasi East MP Paul Ongili, popularly known as Babu Owino.
One of the injured students is expected to undergo an operation at the Kenyatta National Hospital on Tuesday.
“The student who is set to undergo operation was injured when he jumped from the second floor of their hostel. Others sustained minor injuries and were treated and discharged,” Mr Orindi said.
The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) has since launched investigations into the matter.
Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i met Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor Peter Mbithi and student leaders separately at his Harambee House office.
“I want to specifically thank the UoN student leaders for being candid with us and promising to continue with our dialogue. I applaud you,” Dr Matiang’i, who is also the Acting Cabinet Secretary for Interior, said on his Twitter handle.
Ipoa will brief the public on their findings, he added.
Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli criticised the police action, and challenged Mr Boinnet to take full responsibility for the incident.
“Mr Boinnet must tell the country who ordered the General Service Unit to go into the students’ hostels and terrorise them,” he said.
He asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to come out and “comment on this barbaric act”, saying those who assaulted the students were “not police officers but criminals”.
He likened the brutality meted on the students to that witnessed during the apartheid era in South Africa.
University academic Staff Union (Uasu) also condemned the incident.
“Students and staff in the university like any Kenyans have a constitutional right to picket and peaceful protest,” Uasu’s UoN Chapter Secretary George Omondi said.
Ipoa chairman Macharia Njeru said: “There are genuine students who were indeed injured by some police officers as the demonstrators were allegedly being pursued.
“We have not received any information of a fatality,” he said.
Matiang’i says he is waiting for a report from Boinett before taking action.