State fights back Azimio by arresting ring leaders

Bunge la Mwanachi president Calvince Otieno and Embakasi East MP Babu Owino at Milimani Law Courts, July 20, 2023. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The battle between Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party leaders and the Kenya Kwanza administration is now in court.

In what seems to be the Kenya Kwanza Government’s strategy to quell protests, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Thursday dragged Embakasi East Member of Parliament (MP) Babu Owino from Wang’uru Police Station to the Milimani Law Courts.

This was after police arrested him on Tuesday and sought to have him behind bars to enable them to investigate claims of participating in unlawful assembly.

Senior Assistant Directors of Public Prosecution Joseph Riungu and Victor Owiti urged Milimani Chief Magistrate Lucas Onyina not to release Babu as it was feared that he was a danger to Kenya’s security.

“The Directorate of Criminal Investigations received an intelligence report that a group of people including the respondents were planning to hold an unlawful meeting at the Kamukunji Grounds on July 7, 2023,” Riungu argued.

“Investigations are actually ongoing and if the respondents are released, there is a likelihood that additional charges will be preferred against the respondent,” he added.

The court heard that Babu is also being investigated over allegations of engaging in subversive activities on July 7 and July 18 at Kamukunji.

Babu was arraigned alongside Calvince Otieno,  Eric Theuri, Tom Odongo, Michael Otieno, Pascal Ouma, Kelvin Wambo, and Willy Owino.

The MP’s lawyer, Ndegwa Njiru, opposed the application. Njiru argued that Babu was arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and was ordered not to contact either his lawyers or family.

“He was not informed of the reason for the arrest, denied access to counsel, and most fundamentally he was denied a right to be produced before a court in 24 hours. He was produced at 5pm on July 20, 2023, that he has seen a judicial officer,” argued Njiru.

The lawyer stated that the government had breached the law by failing to adhere to the 24-hour rule.

Babu’s other battery of lawyers, Duncan Okatch, Danstan Omari and Jackson Awele asserted that the DCI was simply abusing the court “in a well-scripted script”.

Babu Owino's lawyers Ndegwa Njiru (left) and Duncan Okatch with the MP's wife Fridah Ongili at Nairobi Area Police Headquarters, July 20, 2023. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Okatch stated that on the two days, Babu was out of Nairobi.

“Do we have two Babus? Do we have a clone? He arrived at JKIA and was arrested,” said Okatch.

According to the lawyer, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) was using subversion, a law that was used by colonialists to jail Mau Mau freedom fighters.

While Babu was in the dock before the Magistrate’s Court, his Embakasi West counterpart Samuel Muriithi was a corridor away pleading with the High Court to grant him anticipatory bail and bar police from harassing him over allegations of participating in unlawful assembly.

Muriithi said he had intelligence that he was to be arrested and arraigned in court. He revealed that the DCI has summoned him to explain his involvement in the July 19 to July 21 protests.

“The applicant is really apprehensive that his rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the Constitution would continue to be contravened if the court does not intervene appropriately to secure the Applicant’s freedom on anticipatory bail pending his arraignment before the court to answer whatever charges that may be brought against him,” argued Muriithi.

As Muriithi was pleading his case, Migori Governor Ochilo Ayakco and his Kisii counterpart Simba Arati were before High Court Judge Lawrence Mugambi seeking orders to force Inspector General of Police Japheth Koome to restore their security and firearm licences.

The two governors stated that there was a clear indicator that the government intended to harm them for their association with the Azimio one Kenya coalition.

In the meantime, former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga’s son Peter Njoroge was in the same corridors of justice, seeking Maina’s to have him availed, either dead or alive.

Njoroge said Maina was picked up by government vehicles and whisked away from his home, and that his whereabouts were unknown.