Senate Minority Leader Stewart Madzayo, his National Assembly counterpart Opiyo Wandayi and four other politicians have been charged before Kahawa Law courts with illegally leading supporters in the Azimio mass protests on Monday.
The suspects are Members of Parliament, a Senator and two Members of the County Assembly (MCAs).
Appearing before Chief Magistrate Gedion Kiage, the politicians denied charges of taking part in an unlawful assembly and malicious damage of a motor vehicle belonging to Joyce Nyambura valued at Ksh1.1 million.
The charge sheet states that "Ugunja MP James Opiyo Wandayi, Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo, Richard Chonga (Kilifi South MP), Amina Laura Mnyazi (Malindi), George Yogo Obure and Esther Oromion March 20, 2023, at around 10:00 am along City Hall way in Nairobi county jointly with others not before the court, took part in an unlawful assembly."
The six were further charged that on the same date along City Hall way in Nairobi county jointly with others not before the court, willfully and unlawfully destroyed a motor vehicle registration number KAZ 969B Volkswagen Passat valued at Ksh1.1 million the property of the complainant Nyambura.
Two other MCAs Felix Mutunga and Stephen Mwanthi were separately charged that on Monday at around 1430hours along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi county jointly with others not before the court took part in unlawful assembly
After denying the charges, the politicians through their lawyers led by lawyers Danstan Omari, Samson Nyaberi, Shadrack Wambui, Peter Kaluma and Dan Maanzo sought to be released on reasonable bail terms claiming they are not a flight risk and will abide by all conditions set by the court.
"Your honour the accused persons before you are all politicians namely MPs, senators and two members of the county assembly. They are people who represent members of the public and their fixed abode are well known by the police. They can not run away from the court jurisdictions," Omari said.
The defence lawyers further claimed that the charges against the lawmakers are malicious and politically instigated.
On his part Lawyer Kaluma argued that Wandayi is a Minority leader in the Parliament and is the 5th person in the structure of government.
He said Wandayi conducts the Parliament business and he has to be in Parliament today (Thursday).
He should not miss the sitting as it is very crucial for his position.
"We pray that the prosecution should not be opposed and the process to have them released should be hastened," Kaluma told the court.
The lawyers informed the court that the MPs and the senators have been out on police bonds of Ksh50,000, and Ksh20,000 for MCAs and urged the court to maintain the same bail terms.
In a brief ruling, Magistrate Kiage ordered the six MPs and senators to be released on a bond of Ksh300,000 or a cash bail of Ksh50,000 while the two MCAs they were granted a bond of Ksh250,000 or Ksh50,000.
Wandayi and Madzayo were arrested on Monday at around 10 am and 10:45 am outside the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) as they attempted to stage a demonstration against President William Ruto's government.
The office of the Director of Public Prosecution recommended the prosecution of the eight politicians on grounds that on Sunday, March 19, Nairobi Regional Commander Adamson Bungei warned Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga that the upcoming protests scheduled for Mondays and Thursdays violated the laws of the land.
"Section 5(1) prohibits any public meetings or processions that are not in line with provisions in the Act.
"Sections 5(1) and 5(2) make notification of any planned public meeting or procession mandatory – at least three days in advance and a maximum of two weeks before the protest," read part of the Public Order Act.
The Act also makes it an offence, punishable upon conviction by a sentence of up to one year in prison, to hold or participate in an unlawful assembly.
"Any person who will breach the peace or break the law during the procession shall be dealt with according to the law.
"The public order act of 2012 is very clear, if a protest is not within the framework of that order then it is illegal," Bungei cautioned a day before the first protest was scheduled to take place.
The case will be mentioned on April 3, 2023 for pretrial directions.