Saturday, 4 April 2015

Kenyan Security Questioned Aftermath of Garissa University Attack

Kenyan security forces could have done more to prevent the Garissa attack which left 147 students dead, the head of the teachers’ union in Garissa told RFI on Friday. Questions have been raised about whether the government could have acted more strongly on intelligence reports to prevent the attack by the Somali militant group Al-Shebab.

There was a warning issued at Kenyan universities on 25 March. Had security increased?
There was sufficient intelligence that an imminent attack may take place in Kenyan universities. There were reports but the county police boss in Garissa didn’t take time to give the university enough security personnel. That university was only given two security guys who were there on that fateful night. And those two security guys were overpowered by the Al-Shebab men when they attacked the university at 05:30 in the morning.

So despite this warning at the end of March there were only two police officers posted at the university at the time of the attack?
Exactly, two police officers who were posted at the time of the attack and we are saying that’s a very serious security lapse on the side of the county police boss.

Had your union made representations to the county police to ask for more security personnel?
It was in the public domain that the Al-Shebab guys, 12 of them, crossed the border. They have vowed they are going to attack Kenyans left, right and centre. So, we did not see the point of taking this matter up with the police boss. But we thought as a matter of responsibility and concern he was duty bound to do that, as the county police boss.

Who do you hold responsible for this? Do you hold the local police responsible or do you hold the government in Nairobi responsible?
We are holding the national government responsible because security is a national concern - it’s the national government’s responsibility. We are holding the government responsible, at the same time we are directly holding the county police boss responsible for that security lapse.

How does this make you feel as a teacher? You might find it hard in the future in your classroom.
It is becoming difficult to convince the teachers, especially the non-Somali teachers who are coming from outside this county because the security is not being taken seriously by the government. They are hitting us, the education sector: they’re attacking schools, they’re attacking teachers and they’re attacking students. So you can see this is a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise the education fraternity in this region.
Why weren’t more security personnel posted at Garissa university?

That’s the question we’re all asking with the threat that was there. Posters were put in some of the other universities, universities in Nairobi. They’d already put up posters, even in schools, to ask the students to be vigilant, be careful. So the question we’re all asking is, ‘why wasn’t anything done in Garissa?’ Now, I’m assuming that maybe Garissa being so far from Nairobi, they may have told themselves the threat was only to universities in Nairobi and not anything outside Nairobi and so they struck there because the level of vigilance was low.
Who do you think will be held accountable for this lapse in security?
As of now, until we can establish an investigation and know who failed their part, if intelligence was there, we cannot hold the intelligence officers responsible because they did their work. Including the British intelligence, they warned of attacks and particularly mentioned Garissa.

Now the question is when they got the intelligence and passed it on to the police, the people responsible for security, did they do something. So that’s how we can know which of them to hold accountable. If the intelligence passed the information, then it’s the police; if the intelligence did not pass any information, then it’s them. Whoever’s culpable, it’s going to be between the intelligence and the police, one of them is culpable.