When officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) drove away from the home of Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei, elected representative in cuffs, one could not but wonder why the despicable shadow of suspected incitement continues to hover over Kenyan politics.
Cherargei, summoned by DCI to record a statement and expected to appear in court before August 21, is not the only politician to have been arrested this year alone, on suspected incitement charges.
With his arrest on August 20, he joins a seat in the dock, already occupied by Starehe MP Charles ‘Jaguar’ Njagua who in June also saw the insides of a remand prison after he was arrested. His alleged crime seemed to be remarks made that were deemed to be inciting Kenyans against foreign nationals living within the country. This, in other words, can be construed to constitute xenophobia.
Jaguar, a rapper and a first-time parliamentarian, was eventually released on a Ksh5,000 cash bail pending the hearing of the case.
At the same time, Kakamega Senator Cleophas Malala, former Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Echesa, Matungu MP Justus Murunga and Mayoni MCA Libinus Oduor were also summoned in May and questioned over allegations of incitement and mobilising youths linked to the gangs in the sub-county of Matungu.
The four would later be released after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) directed that investigations into the alleged incitement were incomplete and that evidence was insufficient.
For Cherargei, his arrest comes on the back of statements made during the funeral of Dominic Choge. At the ceremony, Cherargei is shown, in clips to be warning unspecified action to individuals who would be against the Deputy President William Ruto in his 2022 bid. The due process will now take place but it remains to be seen what Cherargei’s fate is.
Incitement Amid The Kenyan Constitution
The fact that all this has happened this year points to a problem, whether real or perceived, that exists within the political atmosphere. At the same time, it could signal the extent of the protection of speech that is guaranteed in the Kenya constitution.
In the 2010 Constitution, free speech and freedom of expression is guaranteed; but with caveats. In article 33, the supreme law of the land says in part, “The right to freedom of expression does not extend to … hate speech, incitement to violence, …”
Application of this law could be why the Nandi Senator is not alone in facing suspected incitement allegations.
Regardless, it leaves Kenya’s politicians in the position where they have to check themselves while making utterances to the public. The rise in action against suspected incitement means that if a problem exists, the DCI’s pointing gun may yet indicate the way to a cure.