Calls for the arrest of Raila Odinga are misguided, legal experts say

Azimio leader Raila Odinga at Toi market in Nairobi. [Emmanuel Wanson, Staandard]

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei is on record calling for the immediate arrest of Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga and other organisers of Friday’s Saba Saba protests.

Cherargei, in a video seen by The Standard, accused Odinga and his aides of creating chaos and causing disturbance by urging his supporters to come out and demonstrate.

“For us who believe in the rule of law, Raila and organisers must be arrested immediately, because he continues to create chaos, anarchy, and destruction of property,” the Senator claimed.

 He further held that Odinga, his co-principals, and anyone championing his course is breaking the law and ‘disturbing the country’s peace.’

Though, Cherargei could not exactly establish what law Odinga is breaking by leading protests against the cost of living and the Finance Act of 2023.

“Let us arrest him…What’s the worst that can happen? We will be able to revive the economy,” he said.

But legal experts now argue that the suggestion to have Odinga arrested is ill-advised, as the senator cannot prove what crime he [Odinga] has committed.

Constitutional Lawyer Bobby Mkangi opined that Azimio is within their rights to hold demonstrations if unsatisfied with the leadership and direction of the country.

“It will be difficult to arrest Odinga. Cherargei must be specific on what law is being broken and what he wants Raila to be arrested for. It is within our constitutional expectations,” said Mkangi.

He further argued that what the authorities should focus on is seeking the real perpetrators of crime, looting, and destruction witnessed during the demos.

“The people to be arrested are those that committed crimes. Those who looted and those who caused the deaths of civilians. That’s the direction we should be looking.”

Azimio began the 10 million signature collection drive on Friday, July 7, with Odinga appending the first signature.

The Azimio chief said the signatures signify their dissatisfaction with the leadership of the Kenya Kwanza government led by President William Ruto and his deputy Gachagua.