, KISUMU, Kenya Jun 11 – Nandi Governor Stephen Sang was on Tuesday charged with malicious damage to property and incitement to violence for leading county officials and locals to destroy tea bushes on a private farm.
Sang was also faced with an abuse of office charge when he was arraigned before Kisumu Resident Magistrate Beryl Omolo.
He denied all the three charges.
Omolo subsequently freed him on a bond of Sh1 million or cash bail of Sh500,000 and the prosecution did not oppose the terms.
Sang was charged alongside others who were not in court.
His case will be heard on June 19.
His lawyers had earlier tried to oppose the charges, arguing that he was granted restraining orders by a High Court in Eldoret, but they were dismissed by the magistrate.
Sang spent the night at the Kisumu Police Station following his arrest on Monday evening when he went to Kapsabet Police Station to record a statement, accompanied by a group of his supporters who were teargassed before he was driven away.
He is accused of leading a group to destroy tea bushes on a farm belonging to former Cabinet Minister and Tinderet Member of Parliament Henry Kosgey, while arguing that it is public land meant for a cattle dip to benefit locals.
In opposing the charges, Sang’s lawyers argued that Justice Stephen Githinji’s orders issued in Eldoret on Monday were clear that police and the Director of Public Prosecutions should be restrained from “charging, prosecuting, arresting, harassing, questioning, intimidating or apprehending” Sang pending a hearing of the matter.
Governor Sang’s lawyers were required to serve their application to respondents within two weeks.
Lawyer Zephanus Yego told the magistrate any proceedings before her court would amount to disobedience of orders by a superior court.
State counsel Victor Mule dismissed Yego’s application saying it had no legal basis.
Mule pleaded with the court to allow the State prosecute its case with sources indicating that the county chief could face charges of incitement and causing malicious damage.
Earlier on Tuesday, Kisumu Chief Magistrate Julius Ngarngar recused himself from the matter, citing relations with Governor Sang which could amount to conflict of interest.
The Council of Governors (CoG) issued a statement on Tuesday expressing concern over Sang’s arrest, and urged security officials to handle the matter in accordance with the law.
“We demand that the rule of law and justice prevails in resolving this matter to allow the Governor resume his duties in the county,” CoG Chairperson Wycliffe Oparanya stated.
He also implored members of the public particularly Nandi residents to remain calm and detectives investigate the matter.
Dramatic scenes were witnessed in Kapsabet on Monday after Sang arrived at a police station accompanied by hundreds of supporters expressing solidarity with him soon after addressing them.
[JEREMIAH WAKAYA IN NAIROBI CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE].