Starehe MP Charles Njagua Kanyi will this Thursday morning face charges of incitement to violence over his xenophobic utterances against foreigners operating businesses in Nairobi.
The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) confirmed last evening that the MP will be presented to court this morning following his dramatic arrest outside Parliament Wednesday.
Mr Njagua’s arraignment comes even as the government in a statement condemned the incendiary utterances the MP made on Monday, and distanced itself from what it described as reckless and unneighbourly sentiments.
Tanzania has since summoned Kenyan High Commissioner to Dar es Salaam Dan Kazungu to explain the MP’s remarks in which he threatened to attack foreign traders operating in the capital.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the MP’s utterances were careless and inciteful pointing out that the aggressive and ill-tempered language used by Mr Njagua is against Kenya’s welcoming ethos as well as the constitution.
“The unfortunate exploitation of the freedom of free speech to dehumanise foreign communities and incite local constituents undermines the welcoming culture that Kenya is reputed for,” the statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
In a clip that has gone viral on social media, Mr Njagua is seen talking about traders from Tanzania, Uganda, Pakistan and China, accusing them of dominating markets in Nairobi and harassing local traders.
“We’re not talking about six Chinese nationals. We’re talking of hundreds of foreigners who work here. I give the government 24 hours to evict these foreigners or as the MP of this area, I will mobilise people and go into their shops, beat them up and send them all the way to the airport,” he says in the video. The MP said it was the role of the Immigration Department to protect local traders from exploitation and harassment by foreigners.
The government assured foreign nationals of their personal safety, saying that the laws that govern Kenya’s conduct as a member of the international community have been upheld and embraced since independence.
After the comments went viral on Monday, Speaker of Tanzanian Parliament Job Ndugai ordered his government to issue a statement on the safety of Tanzanians living and working in Kenya. The Speaker issued the order after Rufiji MP Mohammed Mchengerwa sought his guidance on the need for the Tanzania government to protect its nationals who operate businesses in Kenya.
Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said the government took the remarks seriously and has summoned Kenya’s envoy to explain.
The High Commissioner to Tanzania said “it was a personal utterance that had nothing to do with the official position of the Kenyan government. He promised that his country would summon the lawmaker to explain what he actually meant by the statement,” Mr Majaliwa said.
The statement Mr Njagua issued in Kamukunji, where he went with Butere MP Tindi Mwale, went viral on social media.
Among the foreign nationals he named were Pakistanis, whom he alleged had taken over the automobile business, the Chinese, Tanzanians and Ugandans, some of whom are found in downtown Nairobi.
The MP's utterances came hot on the heels of the deportation of Chinese nationals found selling second-hand clothes in Nairobi’s Gikomba market.
Mr Njagua said, “We are not talking about six Chinese nationals. We are talking of hundreds of foreigners who work here (Kenya). I give the government 24 hours to evict these foreigners lest I, being a representative of this area, go into their shops, beat them and send them all the way to the airport."
While adding that foreigners now harass Kenyans in their own country, he said, “Enough is enough. Either the governments acts as soon as possible or we take the law into our own hands.”
“There are hundreds of foreigners doing the hawking business here ... we shall not accept to be enslaved by foreigners in our own country,” he also said.
Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said President John Magufuli's government took the remarks seriously.
In addition, Tanzania’s Speaker of Parliament Job Ndugai ordered his government to issue a statement on the safety of Tanzanians in Kenya.
In response, the Kenyan government distanced itself from Mr Njagua’s comments and assured the safety of foreigners who wish to invest in the country.
Mr Njagua was arrested around 1pm by DCI officers as he walked out of Parliament Buildings towards his constituency office located at Continental House.
The officers had arrived at Parliament in two unmarked cars around 10am and parked outside the gate facing County Hall. The MP arrived in Parliament around noon and was on his way to his office when the officers in plain clothes — about 10 in number — pounced. He did not resist but pleaded with them not to handcuff him.
They bundled him into a navy blue Subaru car bearing South Sudanese registration and he was driven to Nairobi Region Police Headquarters where he was questioned for over two hours.
MPs Moses Kuria (Gatundu South) Benjamin Gathiru (Embakasi Central) and Nixon Korir (Lang’ata) visited the station, but were not allowed to see him even after camping at the gate for over an hour. Their presence attracted dozens of Mr Njagua’s supporters who staged protests outside the station demanding his release.
The protesters claimed they have been experiencing bad business due to the influx of foreign traders whom they accused of evading taxes. However, the group was dispersed by police who fired tear gas at them.
Reports by Ibrahim Oruko, Mary Wambui and Bernadine Mutanu