Linturi freed on bond and Onyonka presents himself to DCI as crackdown on hate speech intensifies

Meru Senator Mithika Linturi with his lawyers from Elias Mutuma, Ken Echesa, and Kipkoech Ngetich in Nakuru Court when he appeared before Chief Magistrate Edna Nyaloti on January 10, 2022. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

A Nakuru court yesterday freed Meru Senator Mithika Linturi on bond as Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka presented himself before the Kisii DCI offices over alleged incitement remarks he made on Sunday.

The court, however, barred Linturi from making any comments regarding the ongoing investigations into utterances he made at a rally in Eldoret on Saturday.

Chief Magistrate Edna Nyaloti made the orders in a ruling on an application filed by the prosecution.

On Monday, the prosecution led by Senior Principal Prosecution Counsel Joshua Jamsumbah had applied to have Linturi detained for seven days pending investigations.

In the application, the prosecution said Linturi might interfere with witnesses, and he was yet to record a statement.

However, Linturi's lawyers opposed the application.

The court, in its ruling delivered yesterday, said the prosecution had not established that there was a compelling reason to limit Linturi’s right to liberty.

“The affidavit by the investigating officer does not state that the respondent (Linturi) has the capacity to interfere with the government’s cyber-crime laboratory,” ruled the court.

According to the court, the prosecution had indicated that Linturi might be charged with incitement to violence but had not presented any holding charge.

The magistrate said the State had adequate resources to investigate the case against Linturi without limiting his right to liberty, and that prolonged pre-charge detention can result in arbitrary detention.

She said the court had taken judicial notice that alarming utterances like the ones made by Linturi had caused damage and loss of lives during the 2007 post-election violence.

The court granted Linturi a conditional bond of Sh5 million with one surety of a similar amount with an alternative cash bail of Sh2 million.

Linturi was further directed to report to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters every Friday.

Linturi deposited the cash bail in court and was freed.

The case will now be mentioned on January 26, 2022.

In Kisii, Onyonka arrived at the DCI offices accompanied by Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati, Nakuru businessman Geoffrey Asanyo and former Kisii Mayor Samuel Omwando.

He appeared before DCI Officer Beatrice Kabaillah who told him she had instructions that he present himself at the DCI headquarters in Nairobi.

"I have come here to present myself before the police after being given a seven days notice to present myself for investigations. I do not see the need of me being asked to go to Nairobi yet it is only a day since I got the summons," replied Onyonka.

His lawyer told Journalists that the MP had opted to obey the summons by the DPP over allegations of making inflammatory remarks at a rally.

He said that they have not been told of the alleged remarks and that the MP had made a statement with the DCI, who had the task of stating which crime his client had committed.

LSK South West Kenya branch chairperson Wilkins Ochoki asked the DPP and DCI not to be excited over some comments made by politicians during this political season and to take time to investigate any matter before rushing to arrest any politician.

"There is no law that Onyonka has broken and he was given seven days to present himself to the police, summons that he has obeyed one day later. Let them carry out their investigations over the matter," said Ochoki. 

Onyonka and Arati accompanied by their supporters left the Kisii DCI offices a few minutes past noon after spending about 30 minutes there.

The politicians did not speak to journalists, only saying they did not have anything to add after the advocate representing Onyonka in the matter had spoken. They also indicated that they wanted to allow police officers to do their work.

Onyonka is said to have issued a warning to Deputy President William Ruto following remarks made by Meru Senator Mithika Linturi at Eldoret Sports Club on Saturday.

Speaking during a political rally in Nyaribari Chache on Sunday, Onyonka told Ruto that he would be held personally responsible if his supporters attacked other Kenyans after the August election.

Meanwhile, the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has ordered police to investigate Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot over remarks he allegedly made during the Eldoret rally on Saturday.

In a letter to Inspector General of Police Hilary Mutyambai on Tuesday, Haji said the senator's utterances could have incited hatred, hostility, violence and discrimination.

"You are hereby directed to institute comprehensive investigations in accordance with Article 157 (4) of the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 to determine whether any offence (s) has been committed by the said senator and submit the resultant investigation file within seven days of the date hereof," the DPP said.