Light moment as man accused of torching UDA offices tells court he thought his arrest was April Fools’ prank

By , K24 Digital
On Mon, 3 Apr, 2023 21:10 | 2 mins read
Light moment as man accused of torching UDA offices tells court he thought his arrest was April Fools' prank
UDA offices in Siaya were set ablaze by a group of anti-government protesters on Thursday, March 30, 2023. PHOTO/Courtesy

A light moment was witnessed at Siaya Law Courts on Monday, April 3, 2023, after one of the suspects accused of torching United Democratic Alliance (UDA) party offices last Thursday, claimed that he thought his arrest was an April Fools' prank.

Michael Ochieng was apprehended in Kiambu on Saturday, April 1. The arrest coincided with Fools' Day, an annual custom observed by telling practical jokes and hoaxes. 

He was among five suspects who were arraigned before Siaya Magistrate Margaret Wambani on Monday to face charges of malicious damage to private property.

Others are Phelix Omondi, Elly Wambani, Julius Odiaga and Godwin Omollo Ochieng.

The charge sheet read that the suspects torched the building valued at Ksh15 million that belongs to one Peter Achoch, the complainant in the case.

According to the prosecution, the suspects committed the crime during the demonstrations called by the Azimio la Umoja - One Kenya coalition in Siaya on Thursday.

The suspects, who were represented by lawyer  Leonard Okanda, denied all the charges.

The advocate pleaded with the court to release his clients on lenient bail or bond terms pending the hearing and determination of the case, saying they come from humble backgrounds.

“Pending trial, I pray that my five clients will be released on reasonable bond or cash bail. As you can see, they are the real hustlers and cannot afford heavy cash bails or bonds. They live from hand to mouth,” Okanda said. 

It's while praying for reasonable bail terms that Ochieng' alleged that he thought his arrest on Saturday was an April Fools' prank until when he was arraigned in court to face his accusers.

“Other than the second accused, the rest are permanent residents of Siaya town. The second accused was arrested in Kiambu on April 1. They drove him to several police stations while not informing him of the offence he would be charged with. In fact, your honour, because it was April Fools Day, he thought someone was pulling a prank on him,” Okanda told the court eliciting laughter from members of the public who were following the proceedings.

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), said yesterday that the suspects were among a group of 1,000 people who invaded and vandalised the UDA property on Thursday.

DCI said detectives managed to recover exhibits including iron sheets and window grills during the arrest of the suspects.

"The gang of around 1,000 people had engaged police officers in running battles, before barricading the road leading to the Siaya UDA office and set it on fire after vandalizing it," DCI said in a statement on Sunday.

The gang is also said to have inflicted serious injuries on anti-riot police officers deployed to quell the protests.

"Armed with crude weapons, projectiles and petrol bombs, the thugs turned to the police officers who were responding to the violence and seriously injured five of them," DCI added.

Two police vehicles were also damaged during the incident.

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