SPECIAL TREATMENT IN CUSTODY

Politicians not above the law, stop pampering them

No single person, irrespective of their background, should be discriminated against or favoured by the law

In Summary

• When a starving man steals in the village while holding a stick, he is charged with robbery with violence, a capital offence

• Yet when politicians steal hundreds of millions of shillings, they are pampered by the security authorities and at most will spend a few days in custody before posting bond

Embakasi East MP Babu Owino at the Milimani law courts on January 20, 2020
Embakasi East MP Babu Owino at the Milimani law courts on January 20, 2020
Image: ENOS TECHE

The Constitution states in Article 27 (1) that “every person is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and equal benefit of the law”.

The purpose of this article, in essence, is to ensure no single person, irrespective of their background, is discriminated or favoured by the law. Whether a politician or a pauper, when it comes to application and enforcement of the law, they are all treated the same. However, that is in writing. The actual situation in Kenya today is that politicians are above the law and get different treatment compared to the rest of us.

This week, information came in about how Embakasi East MP Paul Ongili, popularly known as Babu Owino, was involved in a shooting of a DJ in Nairobi.

 

Social media videos and reports indicate the legislator shot DJ Evolve, whose official name is Felix Orinda, in the neck. Orinda is fighting for his life in hospital. Although Babu was arrested the same day, when he appeared in court, he was all smartly dressed in his usual expensive suit and a tie. The question in everyone’s mind is how he managed to get so well dressed while in police custody? Had it been a common man, would he have been accorded the same treatment to spruce himself for court?

Several other politicians have received similar or better treatment when facing criminal charges. Aisha Jumwa, Mike Sonko, Ferdinand Waititu and Moses Kuria have all recently been arrested. However, the way they were treated by police was nothing like the common mwananchi. In many situations, politicians are treated specially, released easily on bond and even when in custody, they are given preferential treatment, unlike others. Yet the Constitution dictates that all must be treated equally before the law.

When a starving man steals in the village while holding a stick, he is charged with robbery with violence, which is a capital offence, and he is put away for many days without the possibility of even combing his hair.

Yet when certain politicians steal hundreds of millions of shillings, they are pampered by the security authorities and at most will spend a few days in custody before posting bond and following up on their case from outside. Kenya has become a country where politicians have their own laws and normal citizens have theirs.

It is this obviously misguided application of the law that makes Kenyans despise politicians and jeer them at every opportunity they get. Already, they are a privileged lot earning stupendous sums of money at the expense of Kenya’s economy and Kenyans’ livelihoods. Besides these huge sums of money that they earn from public coffers, they are again treated as being above the law when they break it. The law is always interpreted in their favour, whereas for normal citizens, the law is always interpreted in the most punitive forms.

If Kenya is to truly realise rule of law, then we must treat all equally irrespective of their social status. As a matter of fact, those holding positions of leadership should be held to the highest levels of integrity and when they commit crimes. They must face the full wrath of the law to deter others and set an example.

When we easily let go of those in leadership when they commit a crime, we send the wrong message, especially to the young that it is okay to be a crook. This we cannot allow.

 

As Kenyans, we must force politicians to be good role models. They are not above the law and must face the stiffest penalties and treatment when they wrong.