Ruto, Raila unite to condemn the arrest of senators
Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka
Outrage greeted Monday’s arrest and detention of three senators to block them from voting on the controversial county revenue sharing formula.
Deputy President William Ruto and opposition leader Raila Odinga yesterday condemned the arrest and detention of Senators Cleopas Malala (Kakamega), Christopher Lang’at (Bomet) and Samburu’s Steve Lelegwe with the former terming it an abuse of the criminal justice system.
Ruto, who was angered by the police action, said: “The bi-partisan Senate committee to build win-win consensus is great, wisdom and leadership.
The abuse of police and criminal justice to bully citizens, threaten and intimidate leaders and now blackmail the Senate is very wrong. It is not the reason millions woke up to vote for us.”
Raila, on his part, said the arrest of the senators, just like the acrimonious stalemate that has seen the Senate disagree a record nine times on sharing of revenue among counties, stood as stark reminders that the struggle for a democratic state is far from over.
“The twin sins of failing integrity among a section of elected representatives during this whole affair and the instinct by agents of the State to resort to strong-arm measures to get things accomplished continue to hold our country back, reducing our citizens to mere watchers in dramas whose scripts are written far from public eyes,” Raila said.
“As we continue to push for a just, equal, democratic and prosperous Kenya, we require huge amounts of tolerance and restraint from all arms of government, particularly the Executive which has at its disposal disproportionate capacity for force.
“This will need to be matched with an equal measure of honesty and integrity from the representatives of the people where positions on public issues are guided by no considerations other than public good,” Raila said in a statement to newsrooms.
The Opposition chief said it was “absolutely unnecessary” to turn the revenue debate into a contest between “losers and gainers, pastoralists and agriculturalists, regions and tribes”.
It was equally unnecessary, he said, to make the debate a contest of might between security organs and legislators.
“The State needs to pull back and abandon actions that take away the gains made on our path to democratisation.
The warlords need to stop beating the drums of war or financing the divisive rhetoric and our legislators involved in this matter need to search their souls in all honesty and put public good above private gain,” he said.
Calling on tolerance Raila said: “We must all desist from actions and utterances that have the potential to not only widen the ethnic divide, but also denigrate our young experiment with devolution of resources and services. Now more than ever, Kenyans need to pull together, not apart.”
Earlier, Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi had condemned the arrests accusing the Government of violating the independence and integrity of Parliament, saying the arrests were intended to specifically curtail their participation in the House.
“Parliament is under attack by the Executive. Arrest of Senators ostensibly to prevent them from attending to their duty in Parliament to vote for or against motions on county revenue sharing, is very unfortunate. It’s a throwback to dark days we thought are behind us,” Mudavadi said in a statement.
Adding: “Decision-making in Parliament is achieved through persuasion and debate not brute force, intimidation, threats and arrest. Government can have its way but not through draconian means.”
Ruto and Raila’s sentiments came as the three senators recounted their ordeal at the hands of the police who detained and later released them without charges.
The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi warned that continued use of police officers to intimidate political leaders is a recipe for disaster if not stopped at an early stage.
While pointing an accusing finger at Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Havi accused the government of using security officers to settle political scores against those opposed to State-owned policies.
“At issue is that the underlying logic of peace processes and elections are at odds with conciliation and compromise in the current Kenyan scenario where police officers are being used to harass, intimidate, arrest and detain those who are opposed to the government policies,” Havi told journalists after securing Malala’s release in Kakamega.
Former Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohamed accused the Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti and Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai of wasting public resources in harassing senators who were doing their job.
“Now you know, the abuse of KRA, exploitation of Inspector of Police Hillary Mutyambai and brazen intimidation of senators were all from the Kanu play book,” Mohamed said.
“The drama surrounding the arrest of the three senators and the refusal by the office Director Public Prosecutions (ODPP) to charge them with trumped up charges puts the person and office of Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai in the eye of the storm,” said lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi.
“You can’t find a more egregious, blatant abuse of power,” he added.
Charles Kanjama, another senior lawyer, also accused the DCI of harassing and intimidating senators. “The matter should not end here. The responsible officers should be held to account,” Kanjama said.
Executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) George Kegoro decried what he termed as “worrying scenes in the Senate”, urging senators to brace themselves for a more difficult environment ahead of the 2022 General Election.
“I salute the courage of my Senator Okong’o Omogeni. More of such will be needed during this difficult season,” he said.