Nine Varsity Students Arrested In Connection With Hate Leaflets
Nine Moi University students have been arrested in connection with the distribution of hate leaflets via their WhatsApp group.
An Eldoret court has granted police permission to detain the students for three days while investigations are conducted. On August 5, the case will be heard again.
Some communities are being warned to leave Uasin Gishu County ahead of next week’s General Election if they do not vote in a specific way.
Copies were used as evidence in court.
Elders from various communities in Uasin Gishu demanded on Monday that authorities investigate the authors and take action against them, even as Kenya Kwanza politicians, led by Deputy President William Ruto and his running mate Rigathi Gachagua, pointed fingers at the government.
The elders spoke as police denied reports that some communities had started fleeing the county in fear of clashes during and after the August 9 elections.
“We want to insist that no one will be told to leave because we have lived as one people and even inter-married. Everyone has the right to live anywhere, and as elders, we want everyone to live in peace during this election period,” said Kaburwo council of elders chairperson John Yego at a press briefing in Eldoret.
Eldoret Principal Magistrate Onkoba Mogire ordered that the students be detained for three days at the Langas Police Station pending investigations.
Eldoret South detectives apprehended the suspects on August 1 at Moi University’s main campus in Kesses after they circulated images of leaflets through a WhatsApp group.
The students filed an objection to their detention, claiming that they were not the original authors of the leaflets.
One of the suspects testified in court that the leaflets originated in Central Kenya and that they had already identified the original author.
“I am a student at Moi University. The said leaflets came to our WhatsApp group through another social media source.
Beatrice Wangari Kumari told the court: “Police should not detain us but go for the original author and release us.”
Investigating officer Sophia Ibrahim of the Langas Police Station in Eldoret South told the court that the leaflets contained information warning certain communities to leave Cheplaskei and Kesses in Uasin Gishu immediately if they did not vote for DP Ruto.
The leaflets went on to urge President Uhuru Kenyatta to ignore Dr. Ruto.
Ms Ibrahim told the court that investigations were still ongoing to determine who the original authors were and whether any additional suspects were involved.
She informed Magistrate Mogire that they required additional time to complete their investigations.
She stated that if the suspects are released, they may interfere with investigations due to the nature of the crime for which they are likely to be charged.
Ms Ibrahim stated in a sworn affidavit that the respondents were a flight risk because the investigating officer did not know their original addresses.
She stated that the matter was of public interest and touched on the state’s security during the election season.
Patricia Kirui, state counsel, urged the magistrate to grant the request, citing the investigation’s complexity and the involvement of multiple state agencies.
She stated that the investigating officer needed more time.
Investigators also claimed that releasing the suspects would put them in danger.
“The lives of the respondents are in danger and it will be in the interest of justice for them to be in custody pending completion of investigations,” Ms Ibrahim said in her affidavit.
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According to Ms Kirui, sharing such leaflets via social media or any other medium is prohibited by the National Cohesion and Integration (NCIC) Act.
The magistrate ordered that the suspects be held at the Langas Police Station for three days.