MP Johanna Ng’eno charged over remarks about Uhuru, Mau Forest

Emurua Dikirr MP Johanna Ng’eno was charged Monday with hate speech and conduct likely to result in breach of peace over remarks he issued at the weekend about President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mau Forest.

He denied the charges and will spend two more days at Nakuru Central Police Station as Nakuru Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Usui pushed his bond ruling to Thursday.

Mr N’geno was arrested on Monday at his Mogondo home in Transmara and taken to Nakuru Central where he spent the night.

In a statement earlier on Tuesday, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji approved his prosecution on those two charges, explaining that the remarks Mr Ng’eno issued at the weekend threatened to stir ethnic tensions.

He said he gave the approval after reviewing the file and evidence from the Inspector-General of Police.

Bond terms

Through his lawyer Kimutai Bosek, the MP asked for reasonable bond terms after taking the plea in a virtual court session.

Mr Kimutai argued that the MP is a law abiding citizen ready to honour court dates if freed on bond.

The prosecution opposed the application, saying the legislator is a flight risk.

Senior assistant DPP Daniel Karuri added, “The nature of the charges is serious and the suspect, who holds a position of influence in the area, is likely to interfere with witnesses. Also, the ground is still volatile so it is proper for the court to deny him bail.”

In a rejoinder, Mr Bosek dismissed the prosecution’s application terming the arguments baseless and insufficient to warrant denial of bond.

The magistrate said she needed time to go through the submissions of both parties before making a determination.

The charges

According to the charge sheet, the hate speech charge was based on remarks Mr Ng’eno issued at Junction area in Olgos Sofia village, Transmara West, on September 6.

The remarks concerned Mau Forest and shares occupied by different communities, police said, adding what the MP said was likely to stir up ethnic hatred.

The second charge of offensive conduct concerned remarks the lawmaker issued at the home of the late Joseph Waitakei Kipsang regarding President Kenyatta and his working relationship with Deputy President William Ruto.

“A breach of peace was likely to be occasioned,” the charge sheet stated.

The DPP said Mr Ng’eno’s utterances were “threatening, abusive and insulting” and that were likely to stir up ethnic animosity among communities living in Transmara.

He added, “The conduct of the MP was offensive and was intended to or likely to provoke a breach of peace within Transmara.”

Bigoted rhetoric

The DPP expressed concerns over increasing cases of ethnically bigoted rhetoric  by the political class, which he said is a threat to unity and peaceful coexistence.

Mr Haji warned the perpetrators against this and actions that instigate violence, saying they will be punished.

He advised members of the public to resist and report any attempts that threaten peace.

There was a heavy police presence at Nakuru Police Station as police repulsed crowds that had started gathering to follow the events.

Mr Ng’eno supporters caused chaos on Monday in their attempt to block his arrest after at least 10 police officers stormed his home.

Members of the press and the MP’s lawyer Kimutai Bosek spent the better part of the day waiting at the station as police. prepared the charge sheet.

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