Intruder who cut short Kibaki

Friday December 12 2008

Presidential security detail arrests Mr

Presidential security detail arrests Mr Frederick Odhiambo, a political activist, shortly after he shouted at President Mwai Kibaki, who was making a speech at the Nyayo National Stadium, during this year’s Jamhuri Day celebrations. Photo/PETERSON GITHAIGA 

By MUCHEMI WACHIRA

Questions were being raised on Friday as to how Mr Frederick Odhiambo, who is a member of the Bunge la Mwananchi, managed to find his way to the VIP dais at the Nyayo National Stadium.

Mr Odhiambo managed to sit about 10 metres from President Kibaki, amongst a bevy of invited leaders and envoys.

And this is why his arrest shocked other VIPs who, ostensibly, never expected such an incident to occur in their midst.

Before the celebrations had started, police had embarked on cracking down on members of the civil society who had vowed to stage protests at the venue.

Dissatisfaction

They wanted to show their dissatisfaction with the Government following the high cost of living.

The civil society members also wanted to protest against a move by MPs to shoot down a motion requiring them to pay taxes.

So, how did this security lapse occur? There was a heavy presence of police at the stadium. They kept crowds of people entering the venue at bay to find out who they were.

Mr Odhiambo is a common face in civil society forums. He is also familiar with people in the streets and cannot go unnoticed.

This same man walked to the VIP dais, which is heavily guarded by the presidential security details, and sat comfortably until the last minutes of the ceremony.

Following his arrest, members of Bunge la Mwananchi (The Parliament of the People) in a letter addressed to Kenyans and friends of Kenya, said that Mr Odhiambo, who forced President to hastily end his speech, was descended on by the security.

“They descended on him and mercilessly carried him off, covering his mouth so that he could not be heard,” the civil society organisation said in a letter signed by George Nyongesa and e-mailed to media houses.

They said he was attempting to present a petition from the people at the grassroots to the President, outlining the need to address the food crisis and the importance of taxing MPs.

He also wanted to tell the Head of State that his government should regulate the escalating prices of basic commodities and fuel prices.

Lastly, the letter said, he wanted to tell the President the importance of implementing of the Waki report and upholding the freedom of press.

They claimed that 40 other Bunge la Mwananchi members were also arrested and taken to various police stations in the city.