NAIROBI, Kenya, May 18 – The High Court has given the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko 24 hours to reply to a petition by Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter and nominated MP Sonia Birdi who are seeking court protection over intended arrest and subsequent indictment.
Justice Mumbi Ngugi said in order for the court to make a decision on the orders sought by Keter and Birdi the DPP’s response to their application was crucial since he is the government’s prosecuting agent.
The judge stated that due to urgency of the application the matter needed to be heard Tuesday since the petitioners were likely to be charged on Wednesday.
Keter and Birdi’s lawyer Okongo Omogeni told the court that if the application was not determined as soon as possible it could be overtaken by events and constitutional issues raised will not get a fair hearing.
The two MPs are accused of assaulting public officers at the Gilgil Weighbridge in January this year, although they maintain they were simply exposing the corruption menace that is prevalent in weighbridges across the country.
In a video clip that went viral on social media, Keter and Birdi are seen to be engaged in an altercation with officials manning the Gilgil station, with insults hurled as Keter demands for the release of a lorry that had been detained.
“We will reverse the law… who is the owner of this company?” he is heard asking the officials there. “We are waiting to hear from whom? …Jesus Christ to call you?” Keter is heard shouting.
“Whoever has that contract will lose it…I don’t fight small battles…you will lose your jobs tomorrow.”
READ: MPs Keter, Birdi to face charges over weighbridge saga
Following the circulation of the video, the Department of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission instigated a probe into the conduct of the two, eventually submitting that action be taken on them over the fiasco.
In his submission Omogeni told the Court that EACC was overstepping its mandate as Members of Parliament could only be charged under the Anti- Corruption and Economic Crimes (ACEC) Act if suspected of having engaged in corruption or corrupt activities.
“EACC has maliciously and without legal basis sought to arrest the legislators and arraign them in court,” said Omogeni.
He insisted the petitioners had not committed crimes under ACEC Act nor had they been investigated for any corruption related charge on economic crime and could only face action under the leadership and integrity Act instituted by Parliament.
“It’s only Parliament through the Speaker of the National Assembly who has the power to institute disciplinary proceedings against the petitioners” Omogeni told the court.
The leadership and Integrity Act states that legislators can be removed from office for demeaning the office they hold, compromising public interest in favour of a personal interest and also having a conflict of interest between public and official duties.
Article 75 sub-section two of the constitution states that “A person who contravenes clause (1) or Articles 76, 77 or 78, shall be subject to the applicable disciplinary procedure for the relevant office; and may, in accordance with the disciplinary procedure, be removed from office.”
READ: Keter pushing weight at Gilgil weighbridge: DPP steps in