Nandi Governor Stephen Sang was yesterday charged with malicious damage of property and incitement to violence that led to the destruction of Sh2 million tea bushes in Kibware estate.
He was also charged with abuse of office by authorising the use of two county tractors to destroy tea bushes at the firm.
The governor denied the charges before Kisumu resident magistrate Beryl Omollo. He was released on a Sh1 million bond and alternative bail of Sh500,000. The prosecution did not oppose bond.
After he was released, Sang said he will continue with the construction of a cattle dip on the land next month.
“Between the person returning grabbed land and the other who grabbed, who should be in court?" he asked.
Earlier, chief magistrate Julius Ngar Ngar referred the case to Omollo, saying he could not handle the matter based on his relationship with the accused.
During the morning session, the court was packed with Sang's supporters and county officers from Nandi came to show solidarity with their governor.
The matter was pushed to 3pm and the court gates locked. Security guards demanded press cards before journalists could access the courts.
Governor Sang on Monday spent the night at Central police station after attempts by county officials and leaders to have him released failed.
Senate Majority leader Kipchumba Murkomen and Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruyiot visited Sang at the station.
Pressed for comment, Murkomen said,"We are going for supper and we are coming back."
Some officers from Nandi, who spoke to the Star, said they do not trust the police and will sleep outside the station until the governor appears in court.
Sang arrived at the station around 2.17 pm accompanied by a contingent of police officers, county officials from Nandi and his supporters.
When the governor's three lawyers led by Zephenia Yego appeared before Omollo, they requested the court to release him unconditionally pending the hearing and determination of the matter before he can take any plea.
Yego said they had effected the service of the orders from the court, saying their expectation is that the charges are currently overtaken by events and Sang should be released.
He gave the court a copy of the order issued in Eldoret and their application under certificate of urgency. Prosecutor Victor Mule said the order does not restrain the court from continuing with the matter.
He said they had just been served yesterday morning with the orders, noting that they had no direct bearing or linkages with the particular charges the governor is facing in the Kisumu court.
Mule said the order restraining the prosecution of the accused is a different matter and not related to the issue currently being addressed in court.
"Your honour, the court order is in respect to a different parcel and not this one being handled in court which is reference number 6075. There is also restraint in respect to possession, use and development of a cattle dip according to the order on property known as Nandi Hills-Kapsimotwa Block2-234 and not what is being charged before the court," Mule said.
"I want to urge this court to find the order has no relationship or linkage to the charges in this court."
However, Sang’s lawyer Nathan Tororei said the parcel in dispute was part of the land the prosecution was talking about and produced a map on the same.
He noted that if the DDP wants to challenge this, then it should be done in the same court the orders were issued.
“I urge this court not to accept this, because it will amount to defying the court order. Valid court orders should not be affected by judicial craft so as to defeat the course of justice," Tororei said.
The lawyer noted that the Eldoret court has grated the DPP 14 days to respond to the application.
However, while making her ruling, the magistrate noted that the restraining order was in respect to the 234 block, and there was no court order restraining the DPP from charging sang.
Omollo said the court must maintain fidelity to the Constitution.
The governor had earlier been arrested when he presented himself to the DCI offices in Kapsabet in relation to the uprooting of tea at Kibware farm.
A group of people accompanied the governor to the station forcing the police to lob teargas to disperse them as Sang made his way in.
He was interrogated for about 45 minutes before being whisked away to Kisumu.