Following numerous complaints from traders and patrons, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) moved in to establish the veracity of the grievances that the police were abusing their powers to extort money at alcohol-selling outlets.
IPOA thus invoked Section 6 (c) of the law that establishes the Authority, which demands of it to monitor and investigate policing operations affecting members of the public.
Beats and Patrols
The exercise involved looking into the behaviour of police officers in selected areas while on their regular beats and patrols.
Conducted last year, the monitoring operations returned damning findings; some which are contained in the latest report – Performance Report July – December 2022.
It says: “Monitoring activities were conducted around pubs, bars, and wine and spirit stores as a result of allegations of extortion by Police officers.”
The statutory report adds: “The monitors observed that it had become a norm for bar and liquor store owners to give out bribes to police officers to avoid harassment.”
Functions of the Authority: Section Six (6)
(c) monitor and investigate policing operations affecting members of the public;
(j) subject to the Constitution and the laws related to freedom of information, publish findings of its investigations, monitoring, reviews and audits as it sees fit, including by means of the electronic or printed
(k) make recommendations to the Service or any State organ;
(l) report on all its functions under this Act or any written law;
In Kitengela, located on the outskirts of Nairobi, the exercise exposed an unholy alliance between junior officers and their commander, which was aimed at depriving traders of their hard-earned cash.
The juniors would collect money from traders and hand it over to the commander.
“There were specific officers who collected bribes from the bars and liquor stores on behalf of the officer in charge at Kitengela Police station whom they had nicknamed ‘Bensouda’,” according to the report.
“In the Kasarani area of Nairobi, police officers on beat and patrol duties were seen collecting bribes from gambling joints instead of enforcing the ban on outlawed gambling machines,” the findings revealed.
The operations targeting harassment of alcohol traders were among the fifty-nine (59) that the Authority conducted during the reporting period.
Others were on public order management (33), elections (9), general security (4), traffic management (3) and social media (7).