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Police in Siaya arrest journalist probing use of excessive force

Tension is high at Usenge Town, Siaya County, after Bondo-based Standard Media Group journalist Isaiah Gwengi was arrested Wednesday evening by police officers from the Quick Response Team based in the town.

Mr Gwengi was arrested while in the company of activist Rodgers Ochieng’ and other locals.

The police are said to have been on rampage since Tuesday evening and the journalist has been investigating the use of excessive force by the officers.

Usenge residents have been calling for the removal of the QRT police unit whom they have accused of harassing them.

“We are not happy with the presence of the QRT in the area. They have resorted to beating up everybody on sight and arresting innocent boda boda riders operating in Usenge and its environs,” said a resident who declined to be named.

HARASSMENT

The Nation established that Mr Gwengi’s arrest was related to a story he was following over claims of harassment raised by the residents against the QRT police.

Efforts to get comments from the police on the reason of the arrests bore no fruit as the officers and Bondo OCPD Paul Kiarie did not answer calls or reply to text messages.

On Tuesday Administration Police officers, under the command of Inspector Benard Ongoro, injured one person and confiscated several motorbikes after the officers allegedly started torturing the youth for unknown reasons.

The alleged harassment sparked protests from members of the public, who shouted at the police officers who later escaped from the wrath of the mob which threatened to attack them.

REVENGE MISSION

The officers are believed to be on a revenge mission by arresting the youths, including the journalist and activists for being at the forefront advocating for their removal.

Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda has condemned the incident and has vowed to ensure that the journalist and the activist are released on free police bond.

Dr Ochanda said that the actions by police will only raise tension and animosity between the residents and the police.

He asked the police QRT unit to stop harassing locals for no reason, insisting that he will call for their removal from the town if similar incidents are reported to his office.

“I am headed to the police station to secure their release on free bond and I hope no case will be filed against them as they did not commit any offence. It is sad that the reason for their arrest is very flimsy,” said Dr Ochanda.

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