Deputy President Wi*liam Ruto allies call for ban of Friday arrests

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 00:00 | By
Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen during a past session at Senate. Photo/PD/File

Allies of Deputy President William Ruto in the Senate want a review of the laws relating to criminal offences to ban the arrest of suspects on Fridays.

The arrests of high-profile persons, infamously known as Kamata Kamata Fridays, they claim, are in effect taking the country back to the Nyayo-era dark days where suspects were held in police custody without justification.

Besides, they allege that the arrests are  being used to infringe the fundamental rights of accused persons.

The lawmakers also want courts to stop giving ridiculous and exorbitant bail terms that are only meant to guarantee accused persons appearance in court.

Led by Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen and his Kericho counterpart Aaron Cheruiyot, the legislators want Friday arrests outlawed and Parliament to set up a law that states the procedure and the minimum amount that can be set as bail.

Legal framework

“We should come up with a legal framework that stops Friday arrests, unless you are being arrested for an offence you committed that particular day,” Murkomen told the House yesterday-as he contributed to a petition that proposes to amend Articles 47 and 49 of the Constitution 2010 and other laws relating to criminal offences

“If we do this, we will do away with this draconian application of the law by oppressive regimes,” he added.

Murkomen, a close ally of Ruto, claims that despite the 2010 Constitution having been established with a background of detentions without trial, under the Jubilee administration, the country is witnessing arrests taking place on Friday and victims being detained up to Monday.

“In this country, the criminal justice system has been extremely abused. Some of the courts give ridiculous bail terms.

How can you give someone a bail of Sh100 million, Sh70 million, Sh50 million or Sh12 million? Why do we have bail in the first place?” he posed.

On March 9, 2020, Justice George Odunga observed that arresting citizens on Fridays in a bid to avoid producing them in court within the 24 hours spelt out in law, amounts to abuse of power.

According to the judge, if a suspect is a senator, for instance,  there is no way that suspect will leave the  country because they have interest in matters of governance.

“It is enough for them to deposit their passport and confirm that they will appear in court at a particular time,” he said.

The senator cited the arrest of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua, who Murkomen claimed the State investigated for two years and arrested on a Friday before charging him and others not before court on a Monday.

He said up to now, the said suspects have neither been arrested nor recorded statements.

“In the last two years, we have witnessed abuse of the criminal justice process to arrest and punish people in the interim,” he lamented.

Blame others

His sentiments were echoed  by Cheruiyot who said bail terms only guarantee one to appear in court when called upon and that it has nothing to do with whether you are innocent or guilty.

He said that Parliament  can set up a law that states the procedure and the minimum amount that can be set as bail. 

“I once heard a magistrate telling some of our colleagues who are lawyers that, they are the lawmakers who should make the bail limits clear in law for it not to punish people,” he disclosed.

However, Senate Minority leader James Orengo of Siaya told off Ruto’s allies that the positions they took when the House was discussing the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill, is what is making it possible for police to perpetuate impunity.

“You remember that we went to court to challenge the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill, which he (Murkomen)  supported,” said Orengo.

“If this law is affecting him now, he should not blame others. He is finding himself in a terrible situation out of his own conduct,” Orengo added.

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