Events surrounding funeral rites for her father last Saturday, in a remote village in Merti District, Isiolo County, will forever be etched in her mind.
Abdia Galgalo and her husband, Ali Gababa, had travelled to the village located about 200km north of Isiolo town on Friday.
They had come from Maua in Meru County where Mr Gababa works as a clinical officer.
The couple rode in a Land Cruiser belonging to a family member to attend a ceremony to mark the 40th day following the death of Abdia’s father, Galgalo Habale.
They were in the company of Fayo Galgalo, Abdia’s older brother, who is the chief officer in charge of water and irrigation in the Isiolo County government.
Gababa was also with a colleague and was carrying medicine for an ailing Guyo Duba, Fayo’s in-law.
“We arrived safely on Friday night and immediately started making arrangements for Saturday’s ceremony, which was to mark 40 days after the old man’s death according to our customs,” said Abdia.
Everything went well throughout the day and as family members gathered for the final crucial meeting set for that evening, all hell broke loose.
A contingent of armed police officers from Merti Police Station, about 20km from the village of about 200 people arrived and, without talking to anyone, headed for the parked Land Cruiser.
“From where I was seated in the compound, I saw a speeding police vehicle screech to a halt near our gate. Armed officers alighted and went straight for our vehicle,” said Gababa in Isiolo town Wednesday.
The officers got reinforcements from Kom Police Post, bringing more than 10 additional armed officers.
The family says the vehicle was unoccupied and there were only children around. In the car were two spare tyres and two empty jerrycans.
“I approached the man who was giving orders to ask what was going on but he shoved me aside. He wanted the vehicle’s driver and logbook,” added the medic. Before the driver could identify himself, the officers had descended on the homestead, beating everyone in sight.
They demanded to see the people who had been in the vehicle.
“We did not know what was going on and my plea for the officers to spare the innocent villagers fell on deaf ears as I was also beaten up,” recalled Gababa.
When Abdia came out, she was also beaten up. An officer using a rifle barrel hit her on the chest, cutting off half of the nipple on her left breast.
“I have injuries all over but the most severe one is on my left breast. I have been asked to go for further medical care in Meru,” she told The Standard en route to Meru town.
Rashid Galgalo, Abdia’s youngest brother, was also beaten up and arrested while the driver was asked to drive the vehicle to Merti Police Station.
The 18-year-old spent the night in a police cell and was released on bond on Sunday night. The vehicle was impounded but given back to the owner a day later.
Abdia and two others who were seriously injured were treated at Merti Health Centre and referred to Isiolo.
Abdia reported her ordeal at the Merti police station. It was recorded as assault case number OB 2/11/5/2014.
The whole ordeal ended up being a double tragedy for the family as the sickly Duba, who was under medical treatment, died on Monday night. The family claims he might have died from shock and intends to sue the police for the death.
“Guyo Duba was very sick and under medication. He was very distressed by what happened in the homestead; in addition, everyone fled, leaving him on his own,” said Gababa.
Isiolo County Commander Nelson Okioga said the matter was under probe but blamed residents for provoking the police by throwing stones.
He said the family had exaggerated the extent of their injuries.
Fayo, who has taken up the matter with senior police officers, including Merti OCPD Charles Barasa, described what he saw as “the highest form of police brutality”.
“The police broke the law and we demand that action be taken against them. We also want to know what they were doing in the village,” said Fayo.
The family, he said, will sue five officers from the station, including OCS Robert Wambwere. Mr Barasa could not be reached to comment on the incident as he was said to be out of the office. Efforts to reach him by phone were equally unsuccessful and he did not respond to text messages.
However, a source from Merti Police Station revealed that the officers were on a wild goose chase as they mistook the family’s vehicle for one belonging to people involved in smuggling Ethiopian aliens into the country.
The Merti/Kom road is one of the major routes used by cartels involved in human trafficking but they are hardly arrested once they part with hefty bribes.