The prosecution, led by the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Mutuku, says Embakasi East legislator Babu Owino, born Paul Ongili, risks five years and six months in jail, if he is found guilty of subversion, incitement to violence and offensive conduct conducive to breach of peace charges pressed against him.
“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.