First Year students of Rift Valley Technical Training Institute (RVTTI) received a rude welcome to college after they spent Monday night in police cells for allegedly participating in a riot.
The more than fifty students were arrested by officers from Eldoret East Police Station during a demonstration to protest the murder of their colleague on Friday night.
The teenage students who reported to college three weeks ago listened pensively as the prosecutor read the charges stating that they had participated in an illegal demonstration.
“You are all charged with taking part in a riot at RVTTI in Eldoret East contrary to section 80 of the penal code,” read the prosecutor.
The students collectively denied the charges, stating that they had been arbitrarily arrested by the police officers.
Chief Magistrate Charles Obulutsa was prompted to inquire about the institution’s position on the matter to help determine a fair arbitration.
The instituions's Deputy Principal in charge of Administration and Academics James Chege however came to the students's defence saying most of them had been randomly arrested.
“Most of these students are first year that we admitted three weeks ago and knew nothing about the protest by their seniors who had decried rising insecurity around the school. I pray the court allows us to have custody of them, we commit to produce them whenever the court directs,” said Chege.
Mr Obulutsa however declined saying the court had learnt from a previous case involving Eldoret National Polytechnic students, who never appeared in court again after being granted a free bond at the request of their Dean of Studies.
“The court will not buy that story of free bond again because we have learnt from experience. The police that arrested them might be having strong proof to identify those that participated in the riot,” said Obulutsa.
Mr Chege further pleaded for lenient bailout terms for the students, saying their parents were making frantic calls to inquire on the situation of the students, putting the administration under pressure.
The magistrate granted a Sh 2, 000 bail for each student saying the institution can afford to 'chip in' and secure the students’ bailout.
“Kindly reduce it to about Sh500 because most of the students have been caught unawares and cannot afford the amount. The institution’s hands are tied by the public finance management regulation making it difficult for us to pay the cash bails for them,” Chege pleaded.
Mr Obulutsa further questioned the scared students some who were crying on why they had harassed innocent motorists who had nothing to do with the killing of their colleague.
Although the magistrate eventually agreed to release them on a sh 500 bail, the students were forced to spend the night at Eldoret GK Prison since the banks through which they would have processed their cash bails had been closed.
The case will be mentioned on February 19 ahead of the hearing on March 8, 2018.