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Matungu killings: Echesa sues DPP Haji, Kinoti over arrest

Thursday May 23 2019

Rashid Echesa

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei (L) visits former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa at Nandi Hills Police Station on May 19, 2019, following his arrest over alleged involvement in the killings in Matungu, Kakamega County. PHOTO | CORRESPONDENT | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BENSON AMADALA
By BENSON AMADALA
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RUSHDIE OUDIA
By RUSHDIE OUDIA
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Former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa has moved to court demanding to know why he was arrested, detained and released without charges over the killings in Matungu, Kakamega County.

Mr Echesa was arrested last Friday alongside Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala and Mayoni MCA Libinus Oduor over the activities of criminal gangs in the area.

He was released later after police failed to connect him to the crimes.

DEMANDS

Mr Echesa now wants answers from Director of Public Prosecution Noordin Haji, Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti, Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki and Inspector-General of Police Hilary Mutyambai.

In a matter certified as urgent at the High Court in Kakamega, his lawyer James Namatsi said he wants the four summoned to explain why they ordered his arrest without proper evidence.

The lawyer noted that the DPP clearly stated that evidence did not meet the threshold for the charges police wanted to prefer against Mr Echesa.

“We want the court to prohibit the four from harassing Mr Echesa because we believe there is a political motive behind the arrests,” Mr Namatsi said.

“We want police permanently barred from harassing Mr Echesa."

Judge Mr Jesse Njagi consequently ordered the four to appear in court on Friday for directions on the matter.

'RE-ARREST ORDER'

The former minister claimed that after he was released, he received calls from county police informing him that Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i had ordered his re-arrest.

“A team of county security officials called me saying CS Matiang’i had ordered my re-arrest. I want to know the minister’s involvement in all this,” he said.

Mr Echesa’s suit comes a few days after Senator Malala threatened to take the same action against the state.

While also claiming that his arrest was political, he said he would sue Dr Matiang'i and the IGP for unlawful detention at Kisumu Central Police Station.

“My legal team is preparing the suit. When the time comes, I will go to court to get justice for the unlawful detention and suffering I was subjected to,” said the senator.

NO PROOF

Mr Malala, Mr Echesa and Mr Oduor were all released unconditionally on Sunday, hours after DPP Haji issued the instruction citing lack of sufficient evidence.

The DPP said although investigations were at an advanced stage, they were incomplete so a case against the politicians could not be sustained.

He ordered the DCI, through Mr Mutyambai, to thoroughly investigate the killings.

Matungu MP Justus Murunga presented himself to detectives at the Western Region Police Headquarters in Kakamega on Saturday.

He was later moved to Kisii Police Station and released, according to acting Western region DCI Shem Nyamboki.

Police had intended to seek court orders to continue detaining the four as they investigated the murders.

CRITICISM

A section of politicians from Nyanza and Western regions had condemned the detention of their colleagues without sufficient proof, saying the result would likely be law suits for infringement of rights.

Council of Governors Chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega); senators James Orengo (Siaya, Senate minority leader), Ochillo Ayacko (Migori) and Moses Kajwang (Homa Bay); and Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo had asked the courts to be cautious while handling such cases.

The three senators said the continued detention of suspects before police gather proper evidence is an act of impunity.

Senator Orengo said, “There is nothing concrete in the Malala case. We are deducing that the arrest is malicious and was done because leaders from the other political divide were being held."

He added: “We hope this is not a continued persecution of Malala following his demand for a statement by the Interior ministry on the Matungu killings.”

Mr Malala’s statement on the killings had been scheduled for debate in the Senate on Tuesday.

WARNING

While touring the troubled region last Thursday, Dr Matiang'i said politicians implicated in the killings will be arrested regardless of their positions, once police finalise investigations.

Speaking at the Matungu Sub-county headquarters, he said investigators had found that some politicians currently in office were involved.

He said they had mobilised gangs to show their mighty ahead of the 2022 general elections.

Dr Matiang'i, who visited the area with Mr Mutyambai, said, “We shall arrest you regardless of the position you hold in the government. We shall not look at how many people are following you."

He added, "We will take the direction investigations point us to and arrest you because no one is above the law."