Five legislators from Narok County were Wednesday arrested for “incitement” two days after violent demonstrations in Narok that left two people dead and several others seriously injured.
The leaders were taken into custody shortly after 6pm at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters in Nairobi where they presented themselves to record statements earlier in the day.
They five: Senator Stephen ole Ntutu, and Members of National Assembly Moitalel ole Kenta (Narok North), Korei Lemein (Narok South), Patrick Ntutu (Narok North) and Johana Ng’eno (Emurwa Dikir), were then taken to Muthaiga police station where they were booked before being locked up in the cells.
They are expected in court today to face charges related to incitement to violence over the Monday incident sparked by a dispute over how the Narok County government spends billions of shillings it collects from the Maasai Mara Game Reserve annually.
The lawyer for the leaders, Mr Martine ole Kamwaro, was at the station late in the evening trying to convince the Officer Commanding the Station to release them on a police cash bail, with a promise to present them in court Thursday.
He said: “They all came here as required by the police who eventually resolved to charge my clients with incitement to violence. All of them were arrested.
“All the statements recorded by police revolved around the demonstrations and the petition which was presented in Narok.”
Mr Kamwaro accused the police of harassing his clients.
“My clients are being harassed for nothing because they did nothing wrong. It was within their rights and they also presented themselves here as required.”
The five arrived at the DCI at 1pm, in a convoy together with their supporters including politicians.
After walking into Mazingira Complex on Kiambu Road, they were received by the head of Investigations, Mr Joseph Ngisa.
Mr Ngisa, an Assistant Inspector General of Police, then assigned five detectives from the Serious Crimes Unit to the case.
The leaders were then taken to separate rooms where they were interrogated and their statements recorded. Maj Gen (rtd) Nkaissery had suspended all rallies and demonstrations in Narok warning that the escalating tension in the county could result into violent confrontations.
Upon arrival, the legislators had alighted from their vehicles at the gates and walked majestically towards the police offices but their exit was dramatic as they were driven in two police cars with private registration number plates.
Each of them was sandwiched between mean-looking officers and the vehicles left the premises at high speed.
Their supporters tried to drive after them but other police cars blocked them.
Nairobi County Speaker Alex ole Magelo was also at Mazingira to show solidarity with the legislators.
His official car, a sleek Mercedes Benz with the Green County legislation plate, was among those left chasing after the police cars had vanished.
The previous day, the legislators had reached out to senior counsel Paul Muite asking him to represent them in the case.
Mr Muite yesterday accused CID officers of abusing their powers by locking up the leaders.
“This is clear abuse of office. These are leaders who can’t run away and if police want them to be in court, I can present them in court any time,” he said.
Senator Ntutu blamed their predicament on Mr Nkaissery, saying he had promised to “cut them down for disobeying his orders stopping the demonstrations”.
SUSPENDED ALL RALLIES
Maj Gen (rtd) Nkaissery had suspended all rallies and demonstrations in Narok warning that the escalating tension in the county could result into violent confrontations.
Last week, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairperson, Mr Mumo Matemu and Auditor-General Edward Ouko met with administrators and political leaders from the county. Mr Matemu said that he had received complaints over revenue collection and was investigating them.
Yesterday, the Controller of Budget, Ms Agnes Odhiambo, told the Senate Finance Committee investigating the wrangles that Mara Conservancy and Kenya Airport Parking Services (KAPS) — which collects revenue in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve on behalf of the county — were acting against the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act.
“During the first quarter of the 2013/14 Financial Year, we discovered that the remittances were deducted at the source,” she said.
She explained that all funds collected and received from the national government must be deposited in the county fund at Central Bank and approval sought from the Controller of Budget’s office before expenditure.
Those opposed to the governor argued that he was linked to the private companies that allegedly keep 45 per cent of revenue generated from the game reserve.
The governor blamed his political rivals for the Monday incident.
“What we have witnessed in Narok County is corruption fighting back. There was a cartel that included some of the county staff who used to siphon public funds who are no longer benefiting after we sealed corruption loopholes,” said Mr Tunai.
Narok residents protest arrest of leaders, paralyse traffic
People protesting the arrest of Narok leaders Wednesday paralysed traffic along the Narok-Bomet highway demanding their release.
More than 200 people blocked the busy highway and demanded the release of Narok Senator Ole Ntutu and four other MPs who are being held at Muthaiga Police Station over Monday violence in the county.
The mob barricaded the highway at Ololulung’a and Katakala areas from 6pm to around 9:30pm Wednesday before the police dispersed them and arrested dozens others.
POLITICAL AND NOT CRIMINAL
Some of the men in the group who did not identify themselves said that the Monday demands for the ousting of Narok Governor Samuel Tunai was a political and not a criminal matter and that the two leaders should be released immediately.
Narok County Commissioner Kassim Farah said he could not comment on the incident as he was en-route to Narok from Nairobi and was yet to get all the facts.
“I will give an official statement on the demonstrations after I have been fully briefed. I do not yet have the exact number of the people who have been arrested,” he told nation.co.ke via the phone.
Mr Ole Ntutu and Patrick Ntutu (Narok West), MPs Moitalel ole Kenta (Narok North), Korei ole Lemein (Narok South) and Johana Ngeno (Emurua Dikirr), were arrested after they went to record statements at the CID headquarters over the Monday incident.