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Samuel Arama: Lawmaker defies law suits and political waves to stay afloat

Politics
 Nakuru Town West Member of Parliament Samuel Arama at leaves Milimani Court on June 30, 2022 when he was jailed for six months over  land fraud. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Nakuru Town West MP Samuel Otara Arama can be described as a man with nine lives, going by the storms he has survived in his 25 years in politics.

From the scandal of defaulting in paying a Sh3 million Family Bank loan, assaulting a voter by knocking off his two teeth and altercations with his opponents - to being jailed for six months over alleged land fraud and abuse of office - Arama has survived them all.

Last year, Arama’s political career almost came to a premature end when an anti-corruption magistrate sentenced him to serve six months in jail or pay Sh1.5 million fine after it found him guilty of fraud.

He opted to pay the fine but successfully appealed against the conviction and sentence. The case, in his own admission, almost ended his political career.

“That case was like the sword of Damocles hanging over my head, but I have been vindicated,” he told Saturday Standard last week after the High Court verdict.

The case, determined on June 30, last year, by the anti-corruption court and which saw him fined Sh1,560,000, involved conspiracy to grab a Sh60 million parcel of land.

His three other co-accused, who included former Nakuru Lands Registrar Charles Birundu, were also fined Sh260,000 for each count or serve six months in jail.

However, last week, the soft-spoken but rough-edged politician got a reprieve after High Court judge Justice Patricia Gachohi quashed the conviction upon appeal.

In her judgment, Justice Gachohi noted that the respondent properly conceded that; “the conviction was unsafe on all counts in this appeal.

“The appeal, therefore, succeeds on both the conviction and sentence. As a consequence, I hereby quash the conviction, set aside the sentence and order that any money deposited by the appellant in the form of a fine in this matter be released to him forthwith.”

Arama’s first public spat was in 2015, two years after he was elected MP. Then a vibrant political novice, he could not stand being slighted, and one Richard Moseti allegedly did exactly that - mobilise youth to heckle Arama.

And when Moseti, a voter in his constituency, was summoned to Kaputembwo Police Station, he found an agitated Arama who pounced on him.

Arama knocked off Moseti’s two teeth in a fit of rage and the matter was settled out of court.

And as a first-term MP, Arama was involved in a civil case with the Family Bank over a Sh3 million loan he took and guaranteed with a parcel of land registered in the name of his wife, Florence Masita.

He failed to settle the loan, and the bank auctioned the 0.15 hectare of land.

The court, in its judgment, noted that Arama’s claim that the bank had failed to issue an auction notice to his wife was not satisfactory.

Fast forward to 2019, Arama found himself in trouble with the law after one of his fiercest opponents, Hezron Okiki, claimed the MP had threatened him with a gun.

The two met at a fundraising at the Angaza Seventh Day Adventist Church in the constituency where the altercation began.

Okiki was roughed up by a group of youth believed to be allied to Arama and was handed over to the police and locked up in a cell.

A case Okiki filed in court against Arama was also dismissed due to lack of sufficient evidence.

Another incident that caught the public attention and put the MP in the spotlight, was in 2020 when a woman, Amanda Jeburet, accused him of assaulting her in public following a disagreement over land.

Jeburet claimed that the dispute over the land started after the death of her husband.

She claimed that Arama assaulted her as she went to repossess a lorry belonging to her late husband.

The incident was reported to the Directorate of Criminal Investigation, but later nothing happened to the MP.

Early last year, the MP hit news headlines again - this time around through a short video that went viral.

He was captured in the video ejecting a group of police officers from their official car, accusing them of trespassing into his constituency.

Arama accused the officers of leaving their area of jurisdiction – Nakuru Town East - and trespassing  into Nakuru Town West to allegedly extort his constituents.

Mid-last year, he made news for all the wrong reasons when his name was included in a list of three MPs from the county questioned over an alleged link to a criminal gang terrorising Nakuru residents.

However, Arama says most of those issues had been hyped because he is a public figure.

“I am a public figure, and anything I am involved in is at times blown out of proportion due to my position. I am a law-abiding citizen, and the people I represent know me better,” he said.

Arama has served as Nakuru Town West MP for two terms under two different political parties, and after he was re-elected in 2022 on a Jubilee Party ticket, he has turned against the Azimio La Umoja coalition and now supports President Ruto’s Kenya Keanza administration.

Call him a traitor or just a plain-smart politician, the 63-year-old knows how to stay politically relevant in the cosmopolitan county where voters have a peculiar habit of replacing their leaders - every election cycle - with no valid reason.

To his constituents, Arama is regarded as a philanthropist, always ready to help hundreds of supporters who throng his home in London Estate every weekend.

But to his political opponents, the lawmaker is a rough-edged leader with a sharp tongue - ready to hurl epithets at anyone - opponent or constituent who rubs him the wrong way.

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