Student Organisation of Nairobi University (SONU) Chairman Babu Owino has defended five University of Nairobi students who were arrested for allegedly being in possession of a home-made pistol in a rental room at Lower Kabete, Tuesday June 7.
The five were fighting over the division of money and items they had allegedly stolen.
Babu Owino says he is alarmed by the incident. Nonetheless, he asks for the five to be pardoned.
“I am shocked about it. But the students should be given a chance to complete their education.
“They should be thoroughly counseled. The university and the government should organize the counseling session. That is, if at all they did what they are accused of. You know in Kenya, the law says: ‘You are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law’,” Babu Owino told eDaily.
“We cannot say with a lot of certainty that the five are criminals. Where is the evidence to show that they engaged in criminal activities? Even the pistol, you cannot say with a lot of conviction that it was theirs. Maybe even the police could have brought the revolver there,” Babu said in passionate defense of the five, adding: “We urge the president to pardon the five.”
Lower Kabete residents claimed they feel safer following the arrest of the five – but Babu Owino does not buy into that statement.
“If they knew that the students were criminals, why didn’t they report earlier? They shouldn’t put all blames on students. They should act with a lot of rationality.”
Babu however admits that universities – just like other sections of society – too could harbour students by day and “bad people” by night.
“University is just a smaller section of the larger society. And it hosts different people with different characters. I don’t have the yardstick to measure who is a criminal and who is not. According to me, they are all students. However, I acknowledge that there might be a few who engage in illegal activities – just as some people would in a larger community.”
If charges are pressed and the five UoN students are found guilty, what should be done – according to Babu Owino?
“The government should ensure that students are well-financed to access education and other basic needs because the main reason why somebody would involve himself in such activities is probably due to insufficient funds. So, the government should increase HELB loan to facilitate students such that they don’t look for money through criminal activities.”
The five-member gang comprised University of Nairobi Lower Kabete campus students. Two are said to be in Fourth Year and the other three in Second Year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Business Studies.
The suspects were arrested and taken to Kikuyu Police Station as investigations continue.
According to a neighbour, the gang had – during the night – robbed homesteads in the neighbourhood and police were tipped when the five were wrangling over shares.
Loud bangs were heard from the students’ room, and when police raided the cubicle, they allegedly found the five abusing drugs.
Police conducted a search of the room and found the home-made pistol. Reports claim the five were also fighting over who should be in possession of the revolver.
Rolls of bhang, crude weapons and stolen electronic devices were also nabbed.