Kenya: police on site after controversial “tax collection” operation
A police attempt to justify a controversial tax collection operation inside Pension Towers in Nairobi on Friday was condemned on Saturday for disregarding the facts and the law.
National Police spokesman Bruno Shioso angered Kenyans by explaining what happened in an incident in which activist Boniface Mwangi ran into a group of at least four âTax officersâ accompanied by a police officer who described himself as an executor. Mr Mwangi later said the group was visiting construction companies door-to-door – apparently to collect back taxes.
The group claimed to be from the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), but Mr Mwangi, who was filming as he hired them, demanded that they produce their ID before they could enter a barbershop where he found.
It was the start of dramatic events that saw more armed officers arrive on the scene, angered by the fact that Mr. Mwangi was recording the proceedings. The immediate request was that Mr. Mwangi stop recording the scene, which he refused.
Mr. Shioso’s version of events is that the police in the video had been legally tasked with enforcing revenue collection by Nairobi Metropolitan Services and the KRA.
“Some defaulters had already been arrested when the activist in question – who is said to have an office in the building – accosted police and KRA agents, challenging them to identify themselves,” the statement read. Mr. Shioso.
“The activist in question persisted in his ‘identification’ argument while the police were fully dressed in their official uniforms and armed with official weapons,” he added.
Injury of the activist
The police spokesman went on to say that an injury suffered by Mr. Mwangi, and the images of which the activist shared on social media, was not inflicted by the police but by himself when he “fell to the ground to cause a commotion which was supposed to aid the escape of the arrested defaulters.”
Oddly, however, the KRA did not support the actions of those who claimed to be in authority and refused to identify themselves as requested by Mr. Mwangi.
“Please note that all KRA personnel on duty must always provide identification before entering your premises,” the authority said in a tweet Friday evening.
Mr Shioso’s statement that the police were wearing an official uniform (they also did not identify themselves) also opposed a remark that the Inspector General of Police, Mr Hilary Mutyambai, made in April. when interacting online with Kenyans.
He wrote: âPolice officers were trained in the self-identification procedure while on duty. It is mandatory for all police officers to identify themselves as stipulated in the Police Procedure Code.
These contradictions, along with the extension of other facts captured in Mr. Shioso’s video, have sparked criticism and lectures from Kenyans online.
“Please relieve Bruno of his duties. Either he does not have the professional know-how of official communication, or he is just another rogue officer in your premises,” Kibet posted, tagging the inspector general.
“The current level of information of Kenyans cannot be afforded by this type of communication. It breeds more mistrust and ultimately contempt!”
Living up to the facts
Njuguna tweeted: “It is very unfortunate when a government institution lies to the public who know the facts without batting an eyelid. It is better to keep quiet.”
Other respondents produced a police standing orders page which states that an officer should always have a badge or badge on the left breast.
Others questioned the rationale for the involvement of General Service Unit staff in the enforcement of tax collection.
Mr Mwangi had tweeted: “It’s Friday and they pick people from the stores, beat them up and take them in a truck so they don’t have ‘brand licenses’.”
Wainaina wrote on Saturday: âThere are clear procedures set out in law when it comes to claiming payment of taxes. Under no circumstances should the KRA detain and assault a citizen who has fallen behind in their tax liability under the pretext of collecting taxes.