Top Kenyan politicians have found themselves on the wrong side of the law over what was termed as incitement or hate speech by the authorities.
These elected leaders have all had to spend at least a few hours behind bars after their statements ended up evoking spiteful emotions across the country.
Recently, Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and his Emurua Dikirr conterpart have found themselves on the wrong end of an angry populous over their recent remarks touching on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family.
The Emuria Dikirr MP found himself in police custody on September 6, over his controversial remarks.
Other leaders who have found themselves in a similar position are listed below.
Starehe MP Charles Njagua alias Jaguar
On June 29, the musician-turned-politician was arrested on allegations of incitement.
The legislator was accused of inciting traders to forcefully occupy the stalls at the newly constructed Mwariro Market in Kariokor, the then-Nairobi Region Police Commander Philip Ndolo stated.
This was not his first time he had sound himself on the wrong side of the law as exactly a year earlier, on June 26, 2019, he was arrested outside Parliament after he made a statement that was deemed as having targeted a specific group of foreigners.
”If you assess our markets, Ugandans and Tanzanians have taken over our businesses. Now we are saying enough is enough. If a 24-hour ultimatum is not enough for them to be deported, we will remove them and we’ll beat them up and we will not fear anyone,” read his remark in part.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria
On November 24, 2015, Kuria was arrested on orders of then-Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Keriako Tobiko, for incitement to violence.
Videos uploaded on YouTube show Kuria, following the destruction of NYS projects in Kibera, telling those members of his constituency in the NYS not to restrict themselves from slashing down those opposed to the then Anne Waiguru spearheaded NYS projects.
However, he went on record as saying he had no regrets before later claiming that his statements were taken out of context through malicious video editing.
He has been in court several times under similar charges but none has stuck and the legislator has been acquitted of the sinister crime.
On September 27, 2012, the former Kiambu Governor was in hot water over allegations of inciting violence against the Maasai community.
He was duly arrested and charged with inciting violence and suspended from his government position.
Waititu apologised for his remarks made in reaction to the killing of a street child – allegedly by a Maasai security guard – for stealing a chicken in Nairobi’s Kayole suburb.
On January 8, 2019, the legislator was arrested and charged with incitement. He was apprehended for leading a group of youth during a protest against President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ‘Washenzi’ comment.
This was not Ngunjiri’s first run-in with authorities. In June 2016, Opposition Members of Parliament and local leaders demanded the immediate arrest of the MP, whom they want charged with hate speech.
He was captured in a video asking the youth to ensure members of a certain community left Nakuru Town and its environs “immediately”.
On September 19, 2019, the High Court has acquitted MPs Junet Mohamed, Aisha Jumwa, Timothy Bosire and Florence Mutua of incitement charges leveled against them in the run-up to the 2017 general elections.
In the ruling, the court said the charge sheet presented was defective.
The four legislators were among eight Jubilee and the defunct CORD MPs accused of hate speech and arrested in June 2016.
Other legislators were then-Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama, Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Ferdinand Waititu (then Kabete MP) and Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati).
According to Chapter 4 of the Kenya 2010 Constitution which covers the Bill of Rights, Section 33 clearly stipulates that the right to freedom of expression does not extend to:
1. Propaganda for war
2. Incitement to violence
3. Hate speech
4. Advocacy of hatred that constitutes ethnic incitement, vilification of others or incitement to cause harm; or, is based on any ground of discrimination specified or contemplated in Article 27 (4).
The referenced article stipulates that the State shall not discriminate directly or indirectly against any person on any ground, including race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, health status, ethnic or social origin, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, dress, language or birth.
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