Police have intensified their crackdown on former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko, arresting aides, searching their houses and causing panic over allegations of terrorism activities.
Seven more aides were arrested on Friday and Saturday by plainclothes detectives, some outside City Hall, some from their Nairobi homes and some on the road.
Panic spread among Sonko friends and supporters who feared they may be targeted.
The arrests increased to nine the number of those in custody, in addition to Sonko, over claims they are training a militia group to terrorise the country.
Police went to the Nairobi homes of those arrested and seized knives and items including jungle camouflage military-type uniforms, said to be among items allegedly used for training.
The operations were carried out by the Anti-Terror Police Unit.
The first people arrested in the operation that began last week were aides Clifford Ouko and Benjamin Ochieng. On Thursday they were produced at the Kahawa West law court in Kamiti Prison for allegedly attempting to rescue Sonko.
The prosecution wants them detained for 30 days, pending investigations.
The magistrate ordered them detained until Monday when they and Sonko will appear for the hearing of an application to hold them for 30 days
The two were arrested on February 3 outside Kamiti.
Ochieng had gone on Facebook live outside the prison, saying Sonko was locked up there.
An affidavit by police said they recovered military uniforms, SIM cards, a laptop and assorted mobile phones from the two men.
In a sworn affidavit, inspector Ezekiel Luley of ATPU said the two have been wearing military uniforms against Kenyan law.
He said they planned to attack parts of the country and cause mayhem.
Sonko spent his weekend at the Gigiri police cells ahead of two rulings on his release. To reduce the number of those who wanted to see him at the cells, police misled would-be visitors that he had been moved to Kamiti or Shimo La Tewa Prison in Mombasa.
The Kamiti court hearing an application to hold Sonko 30 days deferred the ruling to Tuesday, February 9.
That is the same day a Kiambu court is to rule on his bail application in a separate assault case.
Kahawa West chief magistrate Diana Kavedza ordered Sonko be detained at the Gigiri police cells ahead of her ruling.
His defence opposed the application, citing alleged contempt of court by the prosecution and jurisdictional issues. They argued the police were abusing their power and would roll back judicial reforms.
The lawyers include John Khaminwa, Assa Nyakundi, Evans Ondieki and Alfred Nyamu.
Kavedza said she agreed with Dr Khaminwa that terrorism is not a simple case and there will be confusion if it proceeds before the Kiambu court rules on Sonko’s bail in a different matter.
Sonko’s attempts to be released by a Kiambu court failed after a magistrate failed to show up in court.
He is facing multiple assault charges. The ruling by Kiambu chief magistrate Stella Atambo on Sonko’s bail application in his assault case was postponed until Tuesday, February 9.
She said she was not ready and had not had enough time to compile the final ruling.
Sonko was taken to court but police drove him back before they showed up at the Kamiti court at 2.40pm.
Last year the Judiciary opened the Kahawa West law courts inside the Kamiti Maximum Security Prison. It was funded by the US and UK governments.
It is the first and largest court in Kenya dedicated to terrorism and high-risk cases.
Since his arrest last Monday, Sonko has been guarded by ATPU officers.
In the new case, police are accusing him of recruiting a militia likely to destabilise the country.
According to a sworn affidavit by an ATPU chief inspector Newton Thimangu, the former governor has been wearing a military-type uniform associated with terrorist groups posing a national security threat.
Hence, he said, Sonko should be detained for comprehensive investigations.
“The suspect herein has started arming his private security agents with full military attire, namely military boots, military jungle uniforms and firearms.
“The suspect who was in the company of unknown person had worn militia attire. Together with the suspect, they were both spotted in public in the full glare of the media and in front of a huge mass of people in a public rally,” the affidavit reads.
He said he has intelligence Sonko is linked to financing terrorist activities and is at the advanced stage of procuring arms and ammunition using a wide syndicate that is complex and sophisticated.
Thimangu added that a coded signal indicates the militia is ready and will be armed to create a threat to citizens through triggering acts of war in Kenya.
“It will be in the best interest that this court finds it prudent to grant custodial detention for 30 days to enable investigations relating to this intelligence information to be thoroughly undertaken.” the affidavit read.
Thimangu added it would be investigated “with a view of preventing, intercepting and or interrupting the criminal understandings by the suspect and his associates to forestall imminent danger.”
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