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Thugs rough up Kisumu County official

Philip Ochieng (in green checked shirt) the political advisor to Kisumu county governor Jack Ranguma is pushed down by youths who had gone to eject him from the office citing claims that he is the obstacle to the governor and promoting nepotism. (PHOTOS: DENISH OCHIENG/ STANDARD)

Kisumu County Commissioner Maalim Mohammed has ordered the arrest of the leaders of a gang that raided Governor Jack Ranguma’s office and attacked a county official last week.

Maalim said yesterday that the victim has positively identified the attackers and recorded a statement with police over the incident, which disrupted operations at the county headquarters.

“This premises is a vital government installation under 24-hour security surveillance and we are not ready to bow down to criminals who want to take control of it,” said Maalim.

A group of about 30 youths on Friday last week stormed the former Nyanza Provincial headquarters building, which houses the county headquarters, Huduma Centre, county commissioner’s office, Lake Victoria Basin Commission, Immigration department, among other local and international agencies.

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They went straight to Ranguma’s office, located on the ninth floor, and caused drama before attacking the governor’s political adviser Phillip Ochieng. 

The men were said to be looking for specific individuals, whom they accused of misadvising the governor and blocking them from accessing him.

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They dragged Mr Ochieng’ from the ninth floor to the ground floor where they roughed him up, before robbing him of money, phones and other valuables.

The governor was out of office at the time.

Security officers attached to the premises were overwhelmed by the youths, and had to call for reinforcement from officers from Central Police Station who saved Ochieng and arrested three of the troublemakers.

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Common figure

Although Ochieng recorded a statement over the incident, junior officers familiar with the matter hinted at possible intervention by a senior politician which led to the release of the suspects.

One of those released is said to be a common figure in violent political rallies.

Maalim however said he was out of the county when the goons struck. He learnt later of the release of the suspects under unclear circumstances.

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“It was unfortunate that those arrested were not charged but that is not the end of it. We have no place for criminals here and I promise that justice must prevail,” said Maalim.

According to Maalim, the youths accessed the premises in small groups, as if they were out to seek government services.

However, after congregating in the governor’s office, they demanded to see the “governors’ handlers” before pouncing on Ochieng who was in the office.

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Police suspect the incident was politically motivated. A County Security Committee meeting has been convened to discuss the political situation in the area, according to Maalim.

“We know this is a political season and we do not want people to take advantage of their political freedom to engage in criminal acts. Everybody involved in that fracas must be brought to book,” he said.

The commissioner has since issued an order barring idling within and around the premises, saying such gatherings pose a threat to security.

“Everyone coming for government services will be served and then expected to leave the premises. We have noticed certain groupings of people like idling around, and these are fodder for violence,” he said.

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