Maina Njenga's case delayed as lawyers protest police presence

Former Mungiki leader Maina Njenga with his supporters outside Nakuru Court. [Daniel Chege, Standard]

Police in full riot gear controlled the entry and departure of litigants at the Nakuru law courts during the hearing of ex-Mungiki leader Maina Njenga's case.

This is after his lawyers and supporters staged a protest along Court Road.

The legal team refused to proceed with the hearing of the case until police officers who had barricaded roads leading to the court allowed members of the public to access the premises.

Lawyer Ndegwa Njiru confronted the officers saying it was wrong for armed policemen to block all roads leading to and out of the law courts.

He briefly staged a protest at the entrance of the court claiming that some of the suspects had been denied access to attend the hearing.

Inside the courtroom, he raised an issue with the trial Magistrate Kipkurui Kibelion demanding that he summon the County Police Commander to explain the presence of extra policemen.

“The police have barred even lawyers from accessing the courts even after showing their identity cards to prove that they were members of the law society of Kenya,” said Njiru who appeared frustrated.

Lawyers Evanson Ondiek and Olaly Cheche appearing for the 12 accused, also raised similar complaints saying even some litigants who had cases in other courts had been denied access.

"The police are harassing and treating everyone as a member of Mungiki. I wonder what informs such a decision," Ondiek said.

Cheche said  police were intimidating the suspects and their relatives.

Prosecutor Wycliffe Omenga dismissed the claims saying that everyone who has a case in court has been granted access to the courtroom.

Onwenga said the courtroom has limited capacity to hold the friends and relatives of the accused.

In his response, Kibelion, the Principal Magistrate, noted that while the court could not accommodate everyone, the prosecution, and the defense team should deliberate on whom to be allowed to attend the proceedings.

Kibelion adjourned the hearing for 20 minutes to allow the opposing side to agree on access.

Njenga and 11 other co-accused are facing trial for being members of an outlawed group, attending an illegal meeting l, being in illegal possession of firearms and bhang, and recruiting people into an illegal group.

The hearing of the case continues.