Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Interior Maj. Gen. (rtd) Joseph Nkaissery died suddenly on Saturday, 8 July 2017. Nkaissery is certainly a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and his death brings to an end one of the saddest chapters in Kenyan history.
On 8 December 2014, the body of Isnina Musa Sheikh, a 48 year-old mother of five, was found in a shallow grave after she was brutally murdered. Hoping for investigations and justice for the mother, northern Kenya residents were perturbed when the now dead Interior CS Joseph Nkaissery called for a press conference and told Kenyans that the woman was a cook for the Somali-based terror group Al-Shabaab.
On the same day, Nkaissery accused northern Kenya leaders (specifically Billow Kerrow) of having a consistent agenda to frustrate the war on terrorism by accusing police of extra-judicial killings. He also blamed two television journalists, Mr Yassin Juma and Mr Mohammed Ali, of having made claims of mass graves through social media.
In June 2016, human rights lawyer Willie Kimani and his client, Mr Josephat Mwenda, and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri, were tortured and killed by police. Lawyers led by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo blamed Nkaissery for the rot in the police force.
Mr Nkaissery, they said, has a “habit of making comments that might be construed to mean that it is okay for the police to be brutal and violent with civilians.”
Nkaissery had previously dismissed police vetting as a waste of time.
On 30 July 2016, a Friday, the locals at Sheikh Barrow village in Lafey were going about their businesses when Al-Shabab attacked and destroyed Fino telecommunication network mast belonging to mobile telephone services provider Safaricom the previous night.
On their way back, a KDF vehicle was hit by an improvised electronic device planted by the terrorists. One soldier died in the line of duty. After the attack on their vehicle, the KDF, in eight vehicles, went to Sheikh Barrow shopping center, surrounded people and beat them to pulp.
Over eight people sustained serious injuries while one boda boda rider, identified as Ahmed Roble, was beaten to death with clubs by the soldiers. The KDF took away 28 mobile phones and a number of business wares including solar panels from the locals.
Lafey OCPD Bosita Omukolongolo and Joseph Nkaissery denied the claims of harassment, brutality and the killing of the boda boda man.
On 2 November 2015, Nkaissery blamed leaders of the refugee community in Dadaab of failing to fully cooperate with the government in the war on terror.
“A lot of radicalization is going on in Dadaab, the attacks on Garissa University and Westgate were planned in this town. Why are you not working with government to end this menace?” asked Nkaissery.
On 29 June 2015, three men went to the home of 45 year-old man, Farah Ibrahim Korio, an ethnic Somali Kenyan and teacher of Islamic education in Wajir. When they did not find him, they threatened to arrest his wife and five children if they did not disclose his whereabouts.
Farah is still missing even as Nkaissery took his last breath at Karen Hospital.
Between December 2015 and January 2016, over 6,000 people from Mandera, Wajir and Garissa counties were reportedly arrested, illegally detained and mistreated by security officials, including KDF and police officers with inside knowledge of the operations by political leaders in the national and county government, human rights defenders, clerics and journalists.
Nkaissery neither acknowledged the scope and gravity of the numerous allegations nor condemned such abuses by security forces.
Hamza Mohammed Barre was taken away by police from his electronic shop in Garissa, four days after the Garissa University attack. Hamza joined the long list of Somali youth who have disappeared mysteriously after they were picked up by the police.
Joseph Nkaissery is adversely mentioned over a military operation in Pokot dubbed “Operation Nyundo” in 1984 by the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission report. According to the report, Nkaissery was in charge of the disarmament exercise that resulted in deaths of civilians, rape and murder in what has come to be known as Lotiriri Massacre.
The Lotiriri Massacre also led to starvation of over 20,000 livestock between 22 February and 22 May 1984.
Prior to the 2013 general elections, Nkaissery was accused of hate speech. He publicly told non-Masaais not to dare to seek elective posts in the Masaai counties of Kajiado, Narok and Samburu.
“We don’t want tribes other than Maasai to contest the seats of Governor, Senator or Women Representative. They can buy farms here, they can do business here, they can even marry our daughters, but we are telling them to leave these positions for the indigenous people” he said.
Nkaissery’s reign as CS for Interior is certainly a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and his death brings to an end one of the saddest chapter in the history our people: A history marked by widespread and systematic attacks directed against civilian populations including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and mysterious disappearances.
And as they say in French, rien n’échappe a la justice de Dieu. Nothing escapes the justice of God!