The controversy surrounding the arrest of lawyer Prof. Tom Ojienda last Friday continues to get more sophisticated even as key stakeholders in the legal corridors poke holes into the conduct of Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Apparently, the balance between adherence to constitutional rights and the fight against graft is on threat by the very act of arresting Prof Ojienda and his colleague Peter Wanyama.
Even as the accused defence secured stay orders on Monday before Judge Chacha Mwita, there are more questions than answers in the whole narrative. Loud discontent from the Law Society of Kenya is a striking reality that needs keen analysis.
First, the DPP and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) erred in locking up the duo on a Friday even having known that courts were not in service within 24 hours after the arrest as the law requires. This among many other prior instances causes ripples among the community of legal professionals, with firm leadership from the LSK.
A disappointed LSK in a press statement accused the DCI of failing to abide by the laws of the country while carrying out their investigations on Mumias Sugar Company.
“We have sought audience with the DCI with no avail. We reiterate our call on the DCI to adhere to the Rule of Law while undertaking criminal investigations of any nature against any person,” LSK noted in part.
Further, LSK accused the DCI of going against Article 49(1)(f) which requires an arrested person to be brought before Court as soon as possible and not later than 24 hours.
DPP Noordin Haji’s defence of his office’s moves on Monday evening spelt turbulent times in the legal fraternity.
It’s worrisome that this new trend could threaten public confidence in the very organs mandated to steer the war against graft.
We appreciate the revamped systems in curbing corruption lords in the country but again, there must be mature structures that can yield results with minimal public show if it must be made.
In respect to LSK’s stand that the new “practice is objectionable, in bad faith and contrary to Article 157 (11) which requires the DPP to prevent and avoid abuse of the legal process,” there is need to conduct a quick nursing to the prosecution process lest we dig our own ditch.
In his Twitter comment on the matter, Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen noted: “The arrest of Peter Wanyama & Tom Ojienda and indeed many Kenyans on Fridays for cases which have been under investigation for weeks, months & even years is a violation of our Constitution & weaponization of the fight against corruption!”
How near can that be to the truth?
The DPP, DCI and EACC should tread cautiously not to create loopholes that will damage their resolve to rid the country of corrupt characters.
Claims by a section of legal practitioners that the cases against Prof. Ojienda might be a deliberate and mischievous aim to hurt his mandate at the Law Society of Kenya and at the Judicial Service Commission further raise a red flag on how the war on graft is headed the wrong way.
Political terrorism must not be permitted in the judiciary.