Emurua Dikirr legislator Johana Ng’eno is no stranger to controversy. Peers describe him as a man who understands the politics of survival.
The outspoken MP is known among his constituents as ‘Ngong’, a Maasai name for a person with squinted eyes and who holds no prisoners.
In the run-up to the 2017 General Election, he was opposed to Deputy President William Ruto and joined NASA where he launched attacks against the DP. He rallied behind ODM leader Raila Odinga.
He has since changed and now backs Ruto’s 2022 presidential bid after falling out with the Kanu leadership over the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
“Ng’eno is like a chameleon that refuses to fall off a tree despite a whirlwind,” said a Jubilee legislator who did not wish to be named.
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His arrest on Monday evening by police in Trans Mara West Sub-county is not the first owing to utterances concerning the settlement of people in the expansive Mau Forest complex.
Although many thought his arrest has everything to do with his harsh words against President Uhuru Kenyatta over his (Uhuru’s) frosty relationship with his deputy, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions preferred to charge him with hate speech. The charges at a Nakuru court were based on utterances he made on September 6 at the Junction Area Olgos Sofia lodge in Trans Mara West, Narok County. On Sunday, the vocal legislator told Uhuru to resign for failing to work with Ruto. “Uhuru should work with the deputy president...if you do not want to do so, go home. Kenya does not belong to Uhuru Kenyatta,” he said.
A video clip of his address went viral, leading to his arrest on Monday. The clip elicited heated online reactions from Kenyans.
“I want to warn Uhuru against endorsing former Prime Minister Raila Odinga or any other presidential candidate in the 2022 General Election,” he said.
The legislator was arrested on Monday at his Mogondo home shortly before 4.30 pm. Ng’eno is accused of inciting communities.
When his constituents got wind that law enforcers were looking for him, they stormed his home and guarded him. At one point, police officers had to shoot in the air to disperse the crowd, but the group stayed put.
His supporters then escorted him from his home to Emurua Dikirr Police Station about six kilometres away.
It was not the first time the MP was finding himself in trouble with authorities over his utterances concerning the Mau Forest or political events in the country. In September last year, he was apprehended on his way to the forest to lead protests against the second phase of evictions. Ng’eno was stopped at a roadblock at Olmekenyu in Narok South and told to go back. He declined and was arrested and detained alongside Ololulunga Ward Rep Jefferson Langat.
On February 24, Ng’eno was arrested at Kimogor trading centre in Narok South for holding an illegal meeting to discuss the BBI. The lawmaker was accosted by a team of police officers and ushered into a waiting police Land Cruiser.
The legislator has never been short of drama and attacks against his political rivals.
In the run-up to the last General Election, he joined the NASA camp and launched scathing attacks against the deputy president - the man he now supports - over the Mau Forest evictions.
In 2007, the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya tallying centre was reduced to ashes as chaos descended in Kilgoris following a clash between Ng’eno’s supporters and opponents.
It took the electoral commission more than one year to organise a repeat election. Although he didn’t win, Ng’eno clinched the seat in the subsequent two elections — always riding against the wave.
The vocal legislator has always vied under smaller parties such as the Kenya National Congress (KNC) and Kadu. He joined Kanu in 2017.
Recently, Ng’eno differed with the leadership of Kanu, the party that sponsored him to Parliament, and declared his support for Ruto.
He accused the party of joining the BBI bandwagon without consulting elected leaders.