Four college students spent five days in police custody after they were charged with trespassing on a parcel of land owned by former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo.
The four were arrested on Monday at Kimbo area near Ruiru while walking through an open field behind the Nairobi Institute of Business Studies (NIBS) college and later charged with trespass before the Thika Chief Magistrate's court.
The accused who include a female student denied the offence and were granted a cash bail of Ksh1,000 each which they couldn't raise and were subsequently led to the Thika police cells.
It took the intervention of Kiambu Governor James Nyoro to have them released from custody after he paid the cash bail Thursday evening.
However, the female student remained in cell as her discharge documents had not been prepared in time.
After their release, the three male students who are from different colleges and universities narrated the harrowing experience they underwent for an offence they believe did not warrant the incarceration.
Dominic Kung'u, Eric Mwendwa and Wilson Mboi said it wasn't the first time they passed through the open land and were shocked when five men in a Land Cruiser accosted them and informed them they were under arrest.
"Students and local residents have been walking through the area as it is not fenced off. So we were left in shock when those people who were in civilian clothes confronted us leading to our arrest and prosecution," said Kung'u, a first-year student at NIBS.
Trespass is treated as a minor offence and attracts a fine of Ksh500 for those who plead guilty, while magistrates at times set the accused free with a mere warning not to repeat it.
At the same time, the Kiambu University Students Welfare Association has condemned the incident and called out Kabogo for failing to act humanely on the plight of their colleagues.
An open letter to Kabogo signed by the association's head of welfare Mary Wainaina expressed disappointment and displeasure at the turn of events, noting that the matter should have not ended up in court.
"We are saddened by your decision to prefer charges against our colleagues for an offence which is so minor," the letter read.
Kabogo who has declared he will be in the race for the governor's office could not be reached for comment but had issued a tweet saying he was on a foreign trip and had nothing to do with the matter.