Police who raided the University of Nairobi on Thursday to quell protests have been accused of not only beating up students brutally but also demanding money before releasing them.
Students who claimed to be victims told the Saturday Nation on Friday that at some point, police officers asked them to part with money.
They said whoever paid was escorted out of the ADD Building, while those who remained were subjected to more beatings.
The police action followed a demonstration by the students, demanding the release of Embakasi East MP Paul Ongili, popularly known as Babu Owino.
Mr Ongili, a former students’ leader at the university, had been arrested for allegedly making abusive remarks against President Uhuru Kenyatta.
When the officers raided students’ hostels, most of them prefabricated structures for first year learners, they are said to have forced open some wooden doors, and a number of learners were Friday complaining of stolen valuables.
According to the students, most of the victims were freshmen, who had been at the institution for barely three weeks.
The unlucky students were on the side of the university that is along State House Road.
They were in class, in the library in the ADD Building or in their hostels.
One freshman fished out of the building said his back was hit with batons by at least 10 officers, who took turns to do so as he lay down.
“I didn’t sleep here. I had to go to Ngara and I returned this morning to attend classes,” the construction management student said, adding that he paid Sh100 to be let free.
Clement, a first year architecture student, said he also paid to secure his freedom.
“There are some who were not asked to part with money but a number of students, when going out of the ADD Building, had to give out some cash. I paid Sh50,” he said.
“After paying the officers inside, we found others outside. We were still raising our hands and they also hit us,” Clement added.
Some National Super Alliance (Nasa) MPs and a section of student leaders on Friday condemned what they described as police brutality.
Nominated Senator Agnes Zani said universities are places of learning “and it is not expected that anything can bring to an end somebody’s career through injury or maiming”.
“During the demonstrations, there was undue level of violence meted out on the students by the police.
“It is unfortunate that the police followed the students to their classes and places of residence and beat them up indiscriminately,” Dr Zani said.
Likoni MP Mishi Mboko said the Constitution grants Kenyans the right to assemble and demonstrate in a peaceful manner.
“Instead of beating them like animals, why didn’t the police arrest them?” she asked.
Kisumu Central MP Fred Ouda said Nasa will not allow the gains made in the country to be eroded by a few individuals.
At the same time, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (Ipoa) and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) called on students claiming to have been beaten up to come forward and record statements.
In a statement, Ipoa head of communications Dennis Oketch said: “Ipoa has proceeded to dispatch its rapid response unit to investigate the matter.
“Ipoa will investigate the allegations of assault and any other misconduct against the police officers.”
KNCHR also said it was investigating the “police brutality” against the students.
“Anyone with contacts of the victims or witnesses kindly forward them to us,” the agency said in a statement.
A video of the happenings at the institution has been shared widely on social media.
Reported by Elvis Ondieki, David Mwere and Ouma Wanzala
Police caught on camera assaulting students in their halls of residence.