Police are now blaming the rising cases of hate speech, especially by reckless politicians, on the Judiciary’s failure to mete out stiff penalties on those brought before the courts.
The blame game emerged on a day Kiambu County Governor William Kabogo recorded a statement with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), hours after the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko, asked police to investigate allegations of hate speech against him.
Monday, Police Spokesperson Charles Owino insisted police have gone after suspects irrespective of party affiliation and presented watertight evidence but the courts had frustrated their work.
Mr Owino challenged the Judiciary to ensure stiff sentences are handed out to those convicted of hate speech to discourage the crime. “This will validate our numerous cautions and warnings issued over hate speech by making them practical and a relevant reality,” said Owino in Nairobi.
He explained they have never failed to arrest any person regardless of their political affiliation on hate speech allegation.
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This is not the first time Judiciary is on the spot over cases of hate speech. The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Chairman Francis ole Kaparo recently cited slow court proceedings as a major upset to the commission’s work.
Mr Kaparo said most politicians have taken advantage of the protracted legal proceedings and poor record of convictions to make more hateful utterances.
Chief Justice Willy Mutunga last week warned that the country was courting danger, especially with politicians fanning ethnic hatred.
“I have said in public that the country is dancing on a precipice and it may flip over. As we approach the elections, the drums of possible violence are being heard by all of us,” Dr Mutunga said during the launch of the Democracy and Human Rights Programme.
Monday, Owino said with regard to Mr Kabogo’s case: “Anyone making inflammatory remarks should know that it is no longer business as usual. We are analysing his statements to present watertight evidence with a view to prosecute.”
Earlier Monday, Tobiko had directed Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and NCIC to immediately interrogate Kabogo over alleged hate speech.
After making the alleged inciting remarks during a function at Thika Stadium, Kabogo had dared the police as well as the Judiciary, apparently knowing they would be after him.
“And if they want to take us to court, I am ready and with enough money to facilitate my defence,” said Kabogo.
Caught on video
Mr Tobiko, in a press statement, said Kabogo was caught on video uttering words that may amount to hate speech, ethnic contempt and incitement to violence.
Kabogo is said to have uttered the words at Thika Stadium during celebrations marking musician John De Methew’s 30-year music career. It is alleged that he uttered sarcastic ethnic remarks targetting CORD leaders Raila Odinga and Johnston Muthama.
But Monday, Kabogo said he did not speak against any ethnic group and maintained that his sentiments were not political.
“I decided to present myself to the CID after I saw my summon letter from DPP Keriako Tobiko on social media. I have told investigators everything they wanted to know,” said Kabogo.
His remarks at at Thika Stadium comes just days after former Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa was arrested and interrogated by police over inciting remarks at a political rally in Kibera. Mr Aladwa was reported saying that blood had to be shed for Raila to become president.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria is also fighting a hate speech case.
Monday, the court also ordered the arrest of Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo for his claims in 2012 that there was an assassination plot against Raila, which was deemed to be inciting.
Monday, Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr called for the urgent establishment of special a court to deal with hate-speech mongers.
“We need a special court to prosecute hate-speech mongers and deny bail to anyone spewing ethnic epithets,” Mr Kilonzo said. He said it would be costly to allow tribal bigots to take the country down the road to ethnic violence again.
— Additional reporting by Daniel Nzia and Faith Karanja