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Detectives arrest lawyers Ojienda and Peter Wanyama

Friday December 28 2018

Tom Ojienda

Senior Counsel Tom Ojienda was arrested by detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations on Friday, December 28, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

WALTER MENYA
By WALTER MENYA
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MAUREEN KAKAH
By MAUREEN KAKAH
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Detectives Friday evening arrested lawyers Tom Ojienda and Peter Wanyama reportedly over Mumias Sugar investigations.

The two lawyers were whisked out of the DCI headquarters shortly after 7 pm with detectives close to the case revealing that they would be locked up at the Muthaiga Police station for the night.

Meanwhile, lawyers representing the Law Society of Kenya pitched tent outside the DCI headquarters for the better part of the evening demanding the release of their colleagues.

And by yesterday, Saturday Nation established that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) were engaging the Judiciary over the possible arrest of Court of Appeal judge Justice Otieno Odek, also over the Sh200 million audit at Mumias Sugar Company.

'FUNNY STORIES'

A DCI insider revealed that the decision to engage the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) was to “avoid unnecessary fights with the judiciary”, having seen the fallout over the arrest and arraignment in court of Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu.

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Prof Ojienda’s lawyer, Nelson Havi, confirmed the arrest but pointed to a much larger scheme to the arrest of  Prof Ojienda. “It is easy to see through the ploy by the DCI and the DPP in arresting Prof Tom Ojienda on a Friday afternoon: Hold him over the weekend, procure warrants to search his homes and offices in his absence and violate his constitutional rights in the process. Justice is on trial!” Mr Havi said.

Mr Havi said they lawyers were making every effort to ensure that the two are released on bail.

Dan Okutta, who is another of Prof Ojienda's lawyers camped at DCI headquarters, told the Saturday Nation that the police have not disclosed to them the reasons for arresting Prof Ojienda and Mr Wanyama.

“They are holding him and they have not disclosed why he is there but we suspect some funny stories are behind his arrest,” said Mr Okutta.

He however said the lawyers have been able to see their two colleagues and talked to them.

“He has not recorded any statement which makes us suspect that the DCI is engaging in politics. We actually know that JSC election is coming up next year. We can tell the reasons why he has been arrested,” added Mr Okutta.

Reports suggest that Prof Ojienda was arrested as he was entering his home in Muthaiga. Lawyer Apollo Mboya said two vehicles, one at the front and another at the rear, blocked Prof Ojienda’s vehicle and executed the arrest.

FRIDAY ARRESTS

Earlier in the day, Prof Ojienda was in the central business district in meetings with friends and colleagues.

It was after he had left the CBD that the detectives pounced on him, meaning that they had been trailing him. Little is known of how the detectives got Mr Wanyama.

Prof Ojienda has been on the radar of various State investigative agencies. He has been recently battling with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), which has refused to issue him with a tax compliance certificate.

The JSC commissioner, however, managed to get a court order that directed KRA to issue him with a tax compliance certificate failure to which the LSK was directed to accept his nomination papers without the tax compliance certificate.

In November, Justice Chacha Mwita issued orders barring the KRA from starting any criminal proceedings against Prof Ojienda.

In May, Justice George Odunga had quashed KRA’s tax demands from Prof Ojienda, terming the demands “unreasonable and irrational.”

The arrests of Prof Ojienda and Mr Wanyama was condemned by Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen, who has lately been a critic of the DCI and DPP over their Friday arrests.

“I am totally opposed to this madness of deliberately arresting suspects on Friday. It is even worse that they are arresting lawyers for providing professional services,”he said.

“Surely Professor Ojienda is a senior lawyer and (a) JSC member. Where is he expected to run to? Rule of Law?” Mr Murkomen posed.

LSK lawyers who camped outside the DCI headquarters criticised Mr Ojienda and Wanyama’s arrest.

ACTING MALICIOUSLY

LSK Chief Executive Officer Mercy Wambua said, as lawyers, they were disappointed with the manner in which their colleagues were arrested.

She said the constitution stipulates that suspects be arraigned in court within 24 hours yet police make arrests on Fridays and present suspects in court on Mondays, which means they spend 60 hours in police custody. She also reiterated that bail or bond is a right for all suspects.

“We are very disappointed, we came here to find out what has happened to our colleagues as soon as we heard about their arrest,” said Ms Wambua.

She added: “we still do not know have information on exactly why they are being held, we had come to seek audience with the DCI but we have not yet been successful.”

However, she disclosed that their arrest came after they were summoned to present themselves at the DCI headquarters yesterday.

Lawyers John Khaminwa, Harun Ndubi and Boniface Akusala called on the DCI and the DPP to follow the Constitution and avoid acting maliciously by acting on selective sections of the law.