Five youth were locked in a cell at Milimani Law Courts on Tuesday, when they attempted to stop the remanding of Embakasi East Member of Parliament (MP) Babu Owino, who faces subversion and offensive conduct conducive to breach of peace charges.
The five, who were among supporters of the vocal legislator, had first blocked exit at a door used by accused persons, forcing the court orderlies to sneak Babu Owino out of the establishment using an alternative door used by the Magistrates.
Some supporters, who had learned that Owino would use the Magistrates’ door when being led out of the court, rushed there and demanded Owino be set free.
At one point, they overpowered the security personnel and walked out with Owino, before the police regained control of the suspect.
The police, thereafter, guided Owino to the Milimani Law Court Cells, where around ten supporters followed him, chanting “free Babu Owino” slogans.
The supporters had not realised that they had reached the holding area, and when Babu Owino was bundled inside, five of his supporters followed him into the cell, leading to a resultant lock-up.
Seeing that their colleagues had been locked up, Owino’s remaining supporters outside the cell begged the police to free their ‘comrades’, but when their pleas fell on deaf ears, they took off, leaving the five to fate.
Babu Owino will spend Tuesday night at Kileleshwa Police Station.
As at time of publishing this story, it remained unclear whether the five youth would spend the night in custody; and whether charges will be pressed against them.
Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi said the court will rule on Wednesday, September 27 whether the first time MP will be freed on bond. The Tuesday hearing lasted more than seven hours.
OWINO RISKS FIVE YEARS IN JAIL: PROSECUTION
The prosecution, led by the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Mutuku, said Babu Owino, born Paul Ongili, risks five years and six months in jail, if he will be found guilty of subversion and offensive conduct conducive to breach of peace charges.
“The charge before the court is very serious. The affidavit sworn by Sergeant Nicholas Oke, the maximum sentence on Count One is seven years. It attracts five years imprisonment. In Count Two, the sentence is six months. If Owino is found guilty of both counts, then he risks being imprisoned for five years and six months,” the prosecution told the court.
Owino risks losing his parliamentary seat if he is found guilty of the charges since the Kenyan law stipulates that lawmakers who fail to attend eight consecutive sittings of Parliament without permission from the Speaker will lose their seat.
Babu Owino had allegedly made vile remarks against the presidency during a NASA rally in Dagoretti, Nairobi on Sunday, September 24.
Police on Monday evening arrested the former Students Organisation of Nairobi University (SONU) Chairman over the alleged offensive remarks.
Owino was questioned at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) headquarters on Kiambu Road following demonstrations by President Kenyatta’s supporters in Kiambu, Ruiru, Thika and Gatundu North, who demanded for his arrest.
Babu Owino spent Monday night in custody at the Pangani Police Station, and was arraigned before Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi on Tuesday, September 26.
Owino was charged with two counts, which are: subversion, incitement to violence and offensive conduct conducive to breach of peace.
Babu Owino pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Mutuku opposed Babu Owino’s release on cash bail, saying there were compelling reasons to deny the accused a bond.
Owino’s lawyer, James Orengo, insisted the accused should be released on bail since the prosecution had not brought to the court an affidavit which demonstrated why the accused should be denied bail.
The prosecution argues that if Owino is released on bail, demonstrations in President Kenyatta’s heartlands will continue.
“The safety of the accused person cannot be guaranteed,” the prosecution submitted.
The prosecution further said since Babu Owino “had previously been charged three times in a span of 17 months”, and that the alleged vile remarks against President Kenyatta attracted a fourth charge, he ought not to be released on bond.
“This particular person does not deserve to be released on bond. He is a person of influence and if released on bail, he will interfere with witnesses lined up to testify against him,” the court was told.
The prosecution further argues that another key reason to denying Owino a bond is that tracing him could be difficult, given “his residence is not known. He has no fixed home.”
Owino’s lawyer, James Orengo, however, said there was no basis, according to the law, to charge his client.