NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 29 – Senator Stephen ole Ntutu and four National Assembly members were released on personal bonds of Sh500,000 each after being detained in connection with protests that left two people dead in Narok on Monday.
Senator Ntutu and MPs Moitalel ole Kenta (Narok North), Korei Lemein (Narok South), Patrick Ntutu (Narok West) and Johanna Ngeno (Emmurua Dikkirr) were released after the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko informed Senior Principal Magistrate Enock Cherono that their detention had sparked riots in the county.
“We have just received information on what is going on in the ground in Narok and surrounding areas. Narok is in flames, road and property have been destroyed purportedly because their leaders have been detained,” he told the court.
He however asked that they be required by a court order to present themselves before their investigating officer once a week and that they be banned from participating in any protests while insisting that “no one is above the law.”
The court however declined to ban them from lawful demonstrations after Senior Counsel Paul Muite pointed out that that such an order would go against the Bill of Rights.
“That right is only guaranteed as long as the demonstrations are unarmed and peaceful,” Tobiko countered.
A concern which the court, in agreement with Muite, felt could be addressed simply by ordering the suspects to refrain from unlawful acts.
The prosecution, prior to Tobiko’s intervention, had sought to have the five legislators denied bail and detained at the Muthaiga Police Station for seven days before being charged.
Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Karuri told the court that as elected leaders, the suspects could interfere with investigations into the killing of two protestors.
An application that was challenged by Muite who said investigations should have been completed before the five, who had been summoned to record statements on suspected incitement to violence, were brought before a court of law.
He also accused the prosecution of abusing the court process to pursue a political agenda against the suspects.
“Where are people who pulled the trigger?” he posed to the court.
But Tobiko dismissed the accusation that his office was being abused by the five legislators’ political opponents and promised speedy investigations into their allegations of misappropriation of funds by the Narok County Government.
The misappropriation of funds being the reason they gave for the demonstrations they led on Monday and at which two people died.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery had banned the planned demonstrations on Sunday on the grounds that they could lead to violence.