Seven ward reps on assault charge are released on bond

Homabay MCAs from left Peter Kaula, Philemon Onditi, Walter Muok, Paul Ongoro, Julius Gaya, Dan Ochieng and Evans Dada in the dock at Kisumu Law courts. [Denish Ochieng/Standard]
Seven members of the county assembly who are facing assault charges have been freed on bond.

Justice Fred Ochieng yesterday released MCAs Evans Dada, Dan Ochieng, Julius Odhiambo, Paul Ongoro, Walter Muok, Philemon Onyango and Peter Ojwang on a bond of Sh250,000 each with two sureties of the same amount.

Their lawyers filed an application challenging an earlier decision by a lower court to deny them bond in a case where they have been charged with assaulting Speaker Elizabeth Ayoo.

A Kisumu magistrate’s court had remanded them for 14 days.

Lawyers Peter Kaluma, TJ Kajwang and James Mwamu went to the High Court to challenge the decision to deny the MCAs bond.

In a matter filed under a certificate of urgency, Mr Kaluma told Justice Ochieng that the MCAs were State officers who held various leadership positions at the county assembly and should be freed to serve.

Among the accused, he said, were the majority leader as well as chairpersons of various House committees.

“There was no compelling reason at all before the subordinate court to warrant their denial of bail,” said Mr Kaluma.

He noted that the ward representatives, just like all Kenyans, had a right to bail, adding that the case they were charged with was a misdemeanour.

Mr Kajwang said the accused would not interfere with investigations if granted bail.

But the prosecutor, Gloria Barasa, objected to the application, arguing that investigations into other charges that the prosecution intended to prefer against the suspects were not complete.

Justice Ochieng said there were a number of factors to be considered, including interference with the case, before setting out the bond terms.

The judge ruled that the MCAs were entitled to bail, but ordered that they should not contact any of the witnesses listed in the case.

Last week, a magistrate’s court heard that on October 16, 2018, the suspects, jointly with others not before court, assaulted Ms Ayoo.

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Homabay county assemblySpeaker Elizabeth AyooImpeachmentward reps