Police in Nakuru may have discovered a new offense. On Tuesday this week they accused a Citizen T.V journalist of having committed a crime they referred to as “creating”.
The crime was part of two offenses that Evans Asiba, a cameraman with the station based in Nakuru, had been accused of committing by police officers at the Bondeni police station and was set to appear for in court on Wednesday September 23.
However that did not happen as it is believed the police may have discovered they rushed into opening a case against him without following the due process.
That aside though, by coming up with erroneous charges against him, they may have committed mistakes that one can only refer to as ‘mistakes of justice’ even as they start fresh investigations of how the 28 year old was assaulted while on duty.
This is how it happened:
On Monday September 21 Asiba was covering a story on the closure of schools due to the ongoing teachers strike at Lions Primary School when, as he alleges, three among four armed police officers beat and injured him.
But the police officers alleging that he had assaulted one of them arrested and took him to the Bondeni Police Station where they filed charges against him. He was later released on a free bond.
Initially his bond read that he had committed one offense, that of assaulting a police officer. But when Asiba reported to the station on Tuesday September 22 as he had been instructed the police added another offense, that of “creating disturbance”.
However the officer filling his bond and bail form, either because of carelessness or utter ignorance, did not explain the disturbance bit but only wrote “creating” leaving the impression that the journalist had committed a crime called “creating”.
But that is not all. The same form has several other mistakes that speak volumes of the way police handle and process data before they present it in court.
To start with the police officer missed the journalist’s name on the form, calling him Evans Barnabasa Asika instead of Evans Barnabas Asiba. This as it stands means as the police were to present their case in court on Wednesday 23 they were to present an accused person different from the one who was to stand in the dock.
The police officer was also not careful enough to see that he wrote time in the right format. Instead of writing 9:00 am he wrote 900 making it look like a mere number. Thus again as it stands the police had not told the journalist what time he was to appear in court.
Mistakes of justice
While these two mistakes may look minor, they are the very ones that expert lawyers use to poke holes at prosecution cases. Such mistakes have led to the delay of justice in some instances while in others its loss altogether.
But even so, police in Nakuru need to explain why they attacked the journalist and even decided to withhold his journalistic tools.
What journalists will want answered is why it has become too easy for police officers in the country to harm journalists whenever they feel like. Earlier this year journalists were beaten and seriously injured while on duty in Tana River country.
Although it is not known who killed Eldoret based journalist John Kituyi the fact that he died on an issue associated to his journalistic work leaves room to speculate that journalists are becoming an endangered species day after day and it will take a strong will to protect them from rogue police officers such as the one who attacked Asiba.