Sonko suspends arrests by ‘kanjo’ due to coronavirus outbreak
City hawkers and unlicensed business operators are breathing a temporary sigh of relief after Nairobi governor Mike Sonko suspended all arrests by county askaris following the reported coronavirus cases in the country.
In a letter posted on his Facebook page, Sonko said this was in line with the guidelines issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta to prevent the spread of the new virus declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“I have suspended with immediate effect all the arrests by the Nairobi City County Government Inspectorate and Enforcement officers until further notice,” part of the letter reads.
The governor, who has been lying low since he was charged with graft and misuse of public funds last year said it would be unfair to have more arrests at a time the courts were scaling down their operations due to Covid-19 spread.
“This is informed by the fact that the operations of all courts of law have been suspended, hence suspects cannot be arraigned in court within 24 hours, as provided for in the Constitution of Kenya 2010,” Sonko wrote.
Invoking guidelines given by WHO, Sonko castigated city inspectorate officers for holding suspects for extended periods in county vehicles before arraignment, saying this puts them at the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Sonko however asked the ‘City Inspectorate and Enforcement departments to remain vigilant in ensuring that the County by laws are followed to the letter by residents.
He has appealed to Nairobi residents and those visiting the city to cooperate with the county government and the guidelines issued to help safeguard the city from the fast spreading novel coronavirus.
Sonko’s announcement was received with mixed reactions on social media with some asking him for protective gear to counter the spread of the virus while others lamented at how ruthless the ‘kanjo’ are when executing arrests.
One user by the name Mike Miquekims wrote: “Mr governor, kindly can you distribute sanitizers to the less fortunate in our slums. The can’t afford them putting to consideration that the prices have been hiked.
Sasha Alejandro, on the other hand, questioned the governor’s directive.
“Saa hii ndio mnajua (It is only now that you know) Human Rights just because everyone is at risk. The way the City Council officials treat people you’d think they’d be pushing oxygen tanks now,” he posed.