DPP now wants all cases of hate speech probed
Crackdown on suspected hate mongers intensified yesterday as the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji directed the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai to investigate utterances by Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot during a rally in Eldoret on Saturday.
The DPP also directed Mutyambai to commence investigations into utterances by a Lamu politician, one Abubakar Amana, who has been accused of issuing remarks that could disturb national peace.
Haji, in his letter, said Cheruiyot’s speech, during the rally that was held at Eldoret Sports Club and attended by Deputy President William Ruto and his allies, could incite hatred and contempt against a section of Kenyans.
While directing his anger at Kesses MP Swarup Mishra for failing to support the DP’s bid to State House, Cheruiyot had asked residents not to vote for him again.
“I am asking the people of Uasin Gishu, why are you electing some people who when they get a seat turn back and are insulting the DP?
Stop these games. We will not accept this, he has been dishing out boda bodas and other things. Take those things but vote for UDA,” the senator spoke in local dialect calling Mishra, a muhindi.
Mishra is among lawmakers from the region that have not aligned with the DP. Others are Silas Tiren (Moiben) and Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany).
Yesterday, the DPP said the remarks were contrary to the Constitution and National Cohesion and Integration Act.
“Alleged remarks captured in the video clip make reference to the racial identity of an elected leader, which utterances could incite feelings of contempt, hatred, hospitality, violence or discrimination and may be contrary to Article 33 (2), of the Constitution and sections 13 and 62 (1) of the National Cohesion and Integration Act,” the statement.
On Amana, the DPP wrote: “The alleged remarks captured in the video clip refer to certain parts of Kenya belonging to certain tribes, and tribal background being a pre-condition for seeking an elective position in these areas. The alleged utterances could incite feelings of contempt, hatred, hostility, violence and discrimination.”
The Kericho senator and the Lamu politician join a growing list of politicians who are on the DPP’s radar for spreading hatred among Kenyans.
They include Meru Senator Mithika Linturi, who was arrested on Sunday for remarks he made during the same rally that were considered hateful and could trigger violence in the Rift Valley region.
Linturi was yesterday released on a cash bail of Sh2 million or a bond of Sh5 million or a surety of the same amount for the ‘madoadoa’ remark that was considered hateful.
He will also be expected to report to the DCI every Friday. Yesterday, Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka recorded a statement with the DCI officers in Kisii town after the DPP earlier asked the IG to investigate his utterances at the weekend.
While responding to Linturi’s speech, Onyonka had said his community will respond in kind if anything was to happen to their members living in the Rift Valley.
He said they had learned lessons from 2007 and would not hesitate to defend themselves against any aggression.
The DPP had on Monday put hate mongers on its radar, warning they will face the full force of the law.
The DPP said his office will prosecute all cases of hate speech and directed detectives to pay special attention to the hotspots within the country.
DPP’s warning came as it became clear that hate speech is slowly creeping into the heated political environment with seven months to the General Election, raising fears the country might easily slide into a slippery path it once found itself in after the disputed 2007 presidential results.
With concerned institutions tasked by the law to take action against vile speeches that could trigger violence struggling to maintain order largely because of weak laws and inadequate personnel, the country is yet again being treated to careless language aimed at triggering hate among supporters of different presidential candidates.
The institutions that have often been put on the spot for treating the matter with kid gloves are the DPP, NCIC and DCI.
In September 2020, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and Emurua Dikirr counterpart Johanna Ngeno were arrested and charged for remarks passed to have been injurious to the First family.
Their cases are pending in court although they have claimed they are politically instigated.
Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei is also facing an incitement charge in court after he was arrested in 2019.
ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohammed, Embakasi East MP Babu Owino have also come under scrutiny for hateful remarks in the past.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria has also come under fire in the past for alleged hate speech.
Thika Town MP aspirant David Ngare alias Gakuyo could also find himself in trouble for snide remarks aimed at a nominated Member of County Assembly during a function in the town recently.
On Monday, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malalah failed to appear before the National Cohesion and Integration Commission after he was summoned for vowing to stop ODM leader Raila Odinga from attending a meeting at Bukhungu stadium on December 31.
Ahead of the Azimio La Umoja meeting that was graced by Raila, Malalah came under fire for the threats that attracted the attention of the NCIC. He was summoned to appear before it but he failed to do so risking further action.
NCIC vice-chair Wambui Nyutu has asked politicians to tame their mouths for the sake of the country’s peace and unity.
“Politicians must exercise caution on the podium. We must respect diversity and political choices of others for this is a democracy.
Remember hate speech is the leading cause of political and electoral violence. Tame your tongues or drive this country to anarchy,” she said.