Police in Kisumu on Saturday arrested Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala following chaos at a function in Busia on Friday.
Kisumu County Commander John Kamau told Nation that they had detained the lawmaker after he fled Busia for Kisumu following a clash involving his supporters and that of his predecessor, Foreign Affairs Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Ababu Namwamba.
“He came to hide in a hotel here in Kisumu. We got hold of him [Saturday] evening and we will hand him over back to police in Busia because they are handling the matter,” he said.
The two leaders’ supporters clashed during a function organised by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure that was led by CAS Chris Obure.
The team was on an inspection tour of various national government projects that included the Busia-Malaba, Malakisi-Malakisi-Lwakhakha roads and the iconic Sigiri Bridge in Budalang’i.
Mr Namwamba’s earlier meeting with Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong at the county headquarters’ office in Busia town had been successful before he proceeded to inspect construction works of the two roads.
Hell broke loose just minutes after Mr Ababu, Mr Obure and Busia County Commissioner Michael Tialal landed at the Sigiri Bridge where his supporters and Wanjala’s had already gathered.
Irate youth then blocked Mr Namwamba from accessing the dais.
Efforts by Mr Obure, Mr Tialal and Busia Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi to mediate between the youth and the former MP fell on deaf ears.
This happened just a few minutes after Mr Wanjala had welcomed the team at the bridge with the two even greeting and hugging each other.
“Ababu should stop interfering with my job. I am the area MP and when I won the August elections this bridge had collapsed. It was started in January and is now nearing completion. What is his role here?” asked MP Wanjala.
With the help of the police, Ababu later accessed the bridge, a move that seemed to have irked Mr Wanjala who confronted him.
After the team was briefed by the contractor on the progress of the bridge with assurance given that it will be ready in a month’s time, they left for the helicopter where Mr Ababu for a second time tried to address residents from the left door of his helicopter.
All seemed to be going well until Mr Wanjala once again confronted him.
His supporters then started pelting stones at the helicopter with some aiming at the former lawmaker.
Police acted promptly by lobbing teargas and firing in the air to disperse the crowd before the helicopter left immediately.
Later in a phone interview, Mr Ababu claimed he regretted the incident, terming it village politics with no direction.
“It’s unfortunate that a good day has ended chaotically. There are a few individuals who think I am a threat to the positions they hold. I have outgrown Budalang’i, I am comfortable where I am,” quipped the former ODM Secretary General.
Mr Tialal said they have launched investigations to bring the culprits to book.
Senators Wako, Khaniri fail to secure MP Wanjala’s freedom
Budalang’i MP Raphael Wanjala is set to be charged in a Busia court on Monday with offences related to causing chaos at a public function on Friday.
Vihiga OCPD Justin Nyagah told the Nation on Sunday that the legislator will be detained for his safety “as he comes from a hostile ground.”
The police boss said the MP is to be charged with malicious damage, endangering people in an aircraft and assaulting a police officer on Friday when his supporters clashed with those of his predecessor and Foreign Affairs CAS Ababu Namwamba.
The MP is being detained at Mbale police station in Vihiga County where several senior politicians unsuccessfully tried to bail him out.
Police have been holding Mr Wanjala since Saturday evening after arresting him in a hotel in Kisumu.
They then transferred him to the neighbouring Vihiga County where the Western region criminal investigation team is following up on his role in the fracas that ensued at a public event in Busia on Friday.
Mr Wanjala, spent the night at Mbale police station cells on Saturday night and recorded a statement on Sunday.
High profile politicians who came to visit him failed to secure his freedom on bail.
Senators George Khaniri (Vihiga) and Amos Wako (Busia) arrived at the station at different times but later left after failing to secure his release.
Mr Wanjala spent much of the Sunday recording statements with the police even as his supporters led by the Budget and Appropriation Committee chairman from Busia County Assembly Mr John Egesa waited for his release on bail in vain.
Without divulging more information, the OCPD said the station was used to “provide an overnight stay” for the embattled legislator.
“He is recording a statement,” said Mr Nyagah.
And Mr Khaniri, who visited the MP at the police station after attending a church service at Womulalu Friends Church, said he was at the station to try to bail him out.
“I learnt of his arrest [on Saturday] night and I am here to show solidarity…we have don’t know what they are charging him with but whatever the offence, I am sure it is bailable,” said the senator after holding talks with Mr Wanjala at the station.
“I am ready to ensure that he is released on bail after he completes writing the statement.”
The Vihiga senator then left the police station, promising to return if the MP will not have been released but did not show up again.
Mr Wako, arrived at around 4pm, and held talks with the MP but showed up without him saying the matter involving the MP was still being discussed.
“I just came to be briefed. I came to see what he is undergoing. As you know I am the Busia senator and the MP comes from Busia and we belong to the same party,” said Mr Wako as he boarded his vehicle and left.
The move left Mr Wanjala’s supporters stranded at the rarely busy station located along Kakamega-Kisumu highway.
On Friday, Mr Wanjala fled Busia after his supporters clashed with those of his political rival at the Sigiri bridge.
Mr Namwamba had accompanied a team from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure that was led by CAS Chris Obure to inspect Sigiri bridge repair works, an event the Budalang’i MP claimed he had not been invited to.
The incident forced police to lob teargas canisters and fire bullets to disperse the rowdy crowd.