, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 21 – Twenty-three University of Nairobi students were on Wednesday morning arraigned at the Milimani Law Courts where they were charged with participating in a riot.
The students denied the charges when they appeared before Senior Resident Magistrate Peter Ndwiga, and claimed they were going about their business at the campus when they were arrested.
They said that they were rounded up irrespective of where they were at the time of the riot and forced out of the campus after police lobbed teargas at them.
“I was going about my usual activities at the photocopy shop at the main campus when the fracas broke out. We then decided to wait inside the shop and that is when the anti-riot police threw teargas into the building and we were forced to come out,” one of the students said. “I personally did not participate in the demonstrations.”
The magistrate released them on a cash bail of Sh500 each, and issued warrants of arrest for six other students who failed to appear in court.
The students were arrested on Tuesday during demonstrations which were largely peaceful in the morning but quickly turned violent after some of the students started stoning motorists.
The hearing of their case has been set for July 3.
On Tuesday, the demonstrating students poured into the Central Business District forcing traders to hurriedly close their premises for fear of looting.
Their plan to take a petition to the Education Secretary’s office was thwarted after they were dispersed by anti-riot policemen.
Following this, the students retreated into the campus where they engaged the police in running battles before they were subdued when the anti-riot officers entered the university and flushed out those hiding in buildings using tear gas.
The strike paralysed transport on Uhuru Highway, University Way and other roads near the campus as police engaged the students in running battles.
Similar protests were reported in various public universities across the country.