Police officer arrested for selling and distributing liquor in Kirinyaga despite closure of bars

A police officer has been arrested in Kirinyaga County for selling and distributing liquor despite of an order for closure of all alcoholic drinks outlets by Governor Anne Waiguru.

The officer identified as Stanley Ithiru and attached to Gilgil police station was arrested at Ithare trading centre, in Kirinyaga East Sub-County where he operates a bar and a guest house.

Kirinyaga County Commissioner Hussein Allasow said the officer in the rank of a Corporal has been booked at Kianyaga police station awaiting arraignment in court tomorrow.

Allasow said the officer had violated the bar closure order as contained in a public notice issued by the County Government on February 19, 2024 following the declaration of closure of all bars on Saturday by Governor Waiguru to pave way for fresh vetting of all alcoholic drinks outlets.

“This bar identified as “The Exciting Palace Bar” is owned by a police officer, we have arrested him and this operation to ensure all bars adhere to the closure order until they are vetted and allowed to open is still going,” he said.

He said all civil servant who operates liquor outlets have been identified and would not get licenses for their facilities.

Allasow said the arrest was made after members of the public raised complaint that the bar was still open and owner was engaged in distributing locally made brew.

“We want to ask residents to continue giving information on bars that are still open, those selling illicit alcohol. We must bring sanity in the alcoholic drinks sector in this county,” the County Commissioner.

The arrest brings to five, the number of police officers arrested in connection to violation of the bar closure orders.

Four other officers were arrested on Sunday in Ngurubani, Mwea West while taking alcohol at Mutitu Andei Bar.

County Executive Committee Member for Sports, Culture and Social Services Dennis Muciimi said the vetting exercise for bars which entered its second on Tuesday was going on smoothly.

“The physical verification of all alcoholic outlets is going on well and we are hoping it will end in the shortest time possible. We want to determine whether an establishment meets the criteria of licenses as stipulated in Kirinyaga County Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2014,” he said.

Muciimi said only bars whose owners will be given a “clean bill” of record will be allowed to re-open.

“Only bars which have complied with the liquor licensing regulations are allowed to reopen. We urge all alcoholic outlets owners to cooperate with our officers,” he added.

During the vetting process, owners of liquor outlets are required to produce licenses for 2023 and approved application for 2024.

Other stringent conditions set out by the multi-agency team for re-opening of bars include compliance with the public health regulations, bars should not be near schools and places of worship. The outlets should also not have previous cases of non-compliance with liquor licensing regulations.

On Saturday, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said law enforcers among them Chief, police officers among others will not be allowed to operate liquor businesses.

Gachagua told the officers to make a choice on whether to resign to continue running their bar businesses or enforce the law.

“You either work as a police officer or run a bar. You cannot protect the law which you also flout. That is conflict of interest,” Gachagua said.

Same sentiments were also echoed by Governor wWaiguru who asked County Government staff operating liquor outlets to make a choice of venturing into business or retaining their employment.

She said some 11 staff from the County Government were operating bars and therefore were conflicted and a hinderance to the enforcement of the liquor licensing regulations.

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