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Tom Ojienda arrest: LSK plans petition on police processes

Sunday December 30 2018

Senior Counsel Tom Ojienda

Senior Counsel Tom Ojienda with fellow lawyers after detectives from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations searched his office, following his arrest over financial misappropriation at Mumias Sugar Company, December 29, 2018. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

SAM KIPLAGAT
By SAM KIPLAGAT
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The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) is planning to file a petition challenging the arrest of suspects on Fridays, a move it says may be aimed at keeping them in police custody over the weekends.

Speaking to the Nation on phone on Sunday, LSK President Allen Gichuhi said the petition will also address the issue of freeing suspects on police bonds, especially if they are not flight risks.

CLARITY

Mr Gichuhi further said the society will address the issue of search warrants to make sure the orders are clear and specific enough to prevent abuse by police.

“We want to make sure the warrants state what police will look for, not vague orders that can be abused,” he said, adding officers should bear in mind advocate-client privileges.

Regarding lawyer Tom Ojienda, who was arrested on Friday evening over financial misappropriation at Mumias Sugar Company, Mr Gichuhi said he cooperated with police during the search at his office so they thought he would be granted bond pending arraignment.

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He noted, however, that their petition is for the good of all Kenyans, not just Mr Ojienda, and that this is not the first time they have raised the issue of Friday arrests.

In a tweet after his arrest, Prof Ojienda maintained that he is a person of integrity and honour. He also said that during the investigations, no statement was sought from him and that none has been sought so far.

“All my records and instructions with Mumias Sugar are intact. I will present all the cases that I have handled for Mumias Sugar to the DCI for them to pick out their alleged fake matters [sic]," he said.

FRIDAY ARRESTS

Fridays are now referred to as 'Kamata Kamata Friday', the day apparently set aside for arrests which are part of government efforts to fight corruption, especially among high-ranking officials.

Questions have been raised on whether they are intentional, to give police leeway to hold the suspects for more than 24 hours.

According to the Constitution, suspects are "to be brought before a court as soon as reasonably possible, but not later than twenty-four hours after being arrested".

Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi said the arrest of Prof Ojienda does not portray Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti in good light.

Mr Abdullahi said on Sunday that it was worse that police were yet to record a statement from the lawyer.

He noted that Prof Ojienda handed police all documents relating to cases in which he represented Mumias Sugar and instructions to disprove claims that he filed fictitious cases on behalf of the miller.

After vising his successor at the Judicial Service Commission at Muthaiga Police Station, he said, "Why wait until Friday to arrest somebody you have been investigating for long?”

HAJI'S POSITION

Early in December, DPP Haji defended the Friday arrests and said he had no apologies to make because they are “legal, proper, and within the premise of the law".

During a press briefing in Naivasha, he said, “Previously, we saw police swoops being done on Fridays and no one complained. Now that high ranking individuals are being arrested on Fridays, why has it become an issue?”

In a statement on December 28, Mr Haji said the DCI conducted investigations into fake court proceedings on Mumias Sugar, that were allegedly used by several legal service providers to obtain money, in the form of legal fees, from the company.

The statement stated that about Sh89 million was paid through fraudulent schemes.

Mr Haji said charges will be preferred against Prof Ojienda, former finance director Peter Kibati and former company secretary Emily Otieno.

They include obtaining money by false pretences', uttering false documents, abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud the company.