Lawyers query move by police to charge suspects in far courts

Wednesday March 14 2018

Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang'

Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang’ walks out of Ngong Law Courts on February 1, 2018. Lawyers have questioned a recent habit by police to charge suspects away from the area where the offence is alleged to have been committed. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SAM KIPLAGAT
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Lawyers have questioned a recent habit by police to charge suspects away from the area where the offence is alleged to have been committed.

Among suspects who have been presented in courts away from the areas where the offence was allegedly committed include lawyer Miguna Miguna, Ruaraka MP Tom Joseph Kajwang, both of whom were presented before courts in Kajiado, and former Cabinet minister Maina Wanjigi and his son Jimi.

Whereas Mr Kajwang appeared before a Ngong court and denied charges related to treason for his role in the “swearing-in” of Raila Odinga on January 30, Mr Miguna was presented before a Kajiado magistrate but refused to plead to the charges.

DEPORTED

He was later deported to Canada although the High Court has ordered his return.

The Wanjigis were supposed to appear before the chief magistrate in Nyeri over charges related to possession of firearms, but they moved to the High Court and stopped the proceedings.

Equally, lawyer Memba Muriuki, who was required to appear before the same court and plead to charges of selling firearms to Mr Wanjigi, obtained orders before the High Court stopping the case.

Mr Muriuki’s lawyer Julius Mugo argued that the Nyeri magistrate had no jurisdiction to hear the case because the alleged transaction was carried out in Nairobi and therefore outside the limits of the Nyeri court.

Jimi, through his lawyer Willis Otieno, told the court that the summons were illegal and contrary to the express provisions of the Constitution.

AILING

Mr Maina Wanjigi, through lawyers John Khaminwa and Nelson Havi, told the court that he was ailing and the summons for him to appear before a Nyeri court, while he resides in Nairobi, amount to harassment.

According to Mr Havi, the move to charge suspects away from the area of the alleged offence is meant to torture them psychologically.

He said the law is clear that one is to be charged in the nearest court.

“It is nothing but intimidation. They are doing what the colonialists used to do. They charged (Mzee Jomo) Kenyatta, Achieng’ Oneko and their colleagues in Kapenguria. What we are seeing is a return of those days,” he said.

IT IS WRONG

Lawyer Mbugua Mureithi echoed the sentiments, saying that former President Moi applied the same tactic during the clamour for multi-party democracy by charging key personalities in the home district.

“It is wrong, however much the police want to clothe it,” he said.

Lawyer Apollo Mboya says that there are exceptional circumstances that would see a person presented to a court away from the area where the offence was allegedly committed.

The special circumstances include the security of the accused person, for example if locals are hostile towards the suspect. “It is wrong to present suspects in different jurisdictions. If it has to happen, then the prosecution must demonstrate why the move is necessary,” he said.