Murang’a: Court releases 22 people arrested in December while conducting prayers

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 28 Feb, 2024 19:32 | 2 mins read
Elders and and their supporters sing traditional songs outside the Murang'a law courts after the court released. PHOTO/Wangari Njuguna

A Murang’a law court has released 22 people associated with the Kikuyu Council of Elders who were arrested in December last year at the Mukuruwe wa Nyagathanga shrine while conducting prayers.

This follows an application made by the Office Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) to have the case withdrawn under section 87(a) due to insufficient evidence.

Senior principal magistrate Edwin Nyaga in his ruling on Wednesday set the elders free and told them they should not have the fear of being re-arrested.

The ruling however did not go well with the lawyers representing the elders who said the prosecution treated the case casually despite having used a legal process to press the charges against the elders.

The lawyers who included Martha Karua, Ndegwa Njiru, Jeremiah Kioni, Kibe Mungai and Kinuthia Mwangi among others said the ODPP had evaluated the evidence and saw it could not sustain the case but still went ahead to prosecute the elders terming it as abuse of office which is against the law.

They also said the prosecution had not presented a credible charge sheet before the court and the case should have not been filed for any proceedings.

Karua said they wanted the case dismissed but not withdrawn, but the court ignored their plea adding that this will pave the way for similar cases to come up in future.

“We are not contented with the ruling but we are going to look at which other ways that the rights of the elders who had been accused had been exploited and pursue for their justice,” she said.

“It’s a sad day for us because this clearly indicates that those in office can easily overlook the law and push their way out of anything,” Karua added.

She insisted that this case was aimed at curtailing the cultural practices of the community which is part of the rights enshrined in the constitution.

Mungai on his part said withdrawing the case under section 87(a) of the criminal procedure code would not protect the elders from being rearrested and charged with the same or different charges.

“The prosecution has admitted that they don’t have sufficient evidence and therefore the case ought to have been dismissed,” he said.

Njiru said there are 11 similar active cases in Nyeri Law Courts of people arrested for being affiliated with the outlawed Mungiki sect and they should also be withdrawn.

“We want all those cases withdrawn because they are of similar nature and they should fairly be applied to all” remarked Njiru.

“We are not contented with the ruling because this implies that anybody who goes to worship at the shrine might be arrested," he added.

The prosecution maintained that the law allows the ODPP to withdraw charges at any time before prosecution.

Further, the prosecution officer said the evidence that would have helped to substantiate the charges was not forthcoming and thus the move to have the case withdrawn.

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