Activist and blogger Mildred Owiso, popularly known as Atty, was released last evening on Sh15,000 cash bail after day-long drama with the police.
It was sweet freedom for the activist, who had been arrested on Saturday morning. Police, however, said they will charge her with incitement to violence on Monday.
Her husband Joram Odhiambo, who had also been arrested during Saturday’s raid at their home, was also released on cash bail of Sh15,000, according to Industrial Area OCPD Abdikadir Sheikh.
Buru Buru sub-county police Commander Adamson Bungei earlier said Ms Owiso was arrested for inciting the public to violence on Thursday.
On that day, on Jogoo Road, Ms Owiso recorded herself on video ordering a police officer who had arrested her over an alleged traffic offence to leave her car, saying it was unlawful for a traffic officer to enter a suspected traffic offender’s car.
“She was arrested in connection with incitement to violence. On Thursday, she recorded herself on video asking a uniformed police officer to leave her car on grounds that no law enforcement officer is allowed to enter a motorist’s car to make an arrest, which is not true,” said Mr Bungei.
Section 96 of the Penal Code criminalises incitement to violence, and a wrongdoer found guilty of the offence could be jailed for up to five years.
“Any person who, without lawful excuse, the burden of proof whereof shall lie upon him, utters, prints or publishes any words, or does any act or thing, indicating or implying that it is or might be desirable to do, or omit to do, any act the doing or omission of which is calculated- (a) to bring death or physical injury to any person or to any class, community or body of persons; or (b) to lead to the damage or destruction of any property; or (c) to prevent or defeat by violence or by other unlawful means the execution or enforcement of any written law or to lead to defiance or disobedience of any such law, or of any lawful authority, is guilty of an offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.”
During the dawn arrest on Saturday, almost a dozen police officers raided her house in Savannah Estate and used teargas as they forced their way into her house. The activist streamed the altercation live on her Facebook page, Buyer Beware.
Some officers could be seen jumping over her locked gate while others were seen on top of her house. The arrest was connected to a video clip that she shared on social media of a traffic police officer who entered her car on Jogoo Road over a traffic offence.
In the clip, the controversial blogger adamantly refused to drive to a police station with the male officer in her car. She argued that the officer had no right to enter her car.
According to Traffic Act Section 105, any police officer in uniform is allowed to stop any vehicle on the road and enter it during routine inspection.
“It shall be lawful for any police officer in uniform to stop any vehicle, and for any police officer, licensing officer or inspector, (a) to enter any vehicle; (b) to drive any vehicle or cause any vehicle to be driven; (c) upon reasonable suspicion of any offence under this Act, to order and require the owner of any vehicle to bring the vehicle to him,” the Traffic Act reads in part.
It further states that any person who fails to comply with any instructions given under this section is guilty of an offence and liable on a first conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh30,000 and for a second or subsequent conviction, to a fine not exceeding Sh50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of one year.
Instead, she demanded to be booked and notified about the station she should meet the policeman, if she had committed a traffic offence. Other motorists and road users quickly milled around the car, which had been parked at a petrol station, upon hearing the loud altercation between her and the police officer.
The reluctant police officer stayed unshaken in the back seat of the vehicle, forcing the angry mob to eject him and almost beat him up.
The officer, who at the time did not have his identification number pinned on his uniform, was seen frantically making calls to unknown persons as the enraged mob grew even bigger.
The National Police Service ACT of 2011 in Section 61(2) states that a police officer in uniform shall at all times affix a name tag or identifiable service number in a clearly visible part of the uniform.
In August 2019, Ms Owiso, was arrested on suspicion of human-trafficking offences and is currently out on bond.
According to the police, the blogger was also charged with causing a disturbance after she tried to escape from lawful custody and causing a scene at a police station.
Two women recorded statements at the Buru Buru Police Station, accusing the blogger of locking them up over a deal gone wrong. The women said that they had entered a deal with the blogger and a man, identified as Joram Odhiambo Oliech, who later held them captive after they opted out of a deal to go and work in Lebanon.
The two had organised to facilitate their travel oversees to work but when they opted out of the deal, they were told to pay some money before being released. According to the victims, having declined the plan, they were asked to pay Sh20,000 in cash.
“We realised that in the same facility that the lady was occupying there were some travelling documents (passports) of other people and after being questioned, she was not able to justify why she had the documents of the alleged victim,” said Mr Bungei.
In May, there were damning conflicting reports after word went round that the activist had been kidnapped on Mombasa Road in Nairobi by men in civilian clothes.
She claimed she was abducted while she was on her way to the Central Police Station in Nairobi to deliver a notice on a planned demonstration.
Ms Owiso sent a distress call to her close friends, alleging that she had been picked up by some people and asked to switch off her phone. Police later said there was no record that she was booked at any of the police stations in the city.
Interestingly, her WhatsApp account was active and she was online in several intervals at the time she said she was “abducted”.
When the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, of which she is a member, sent a press statement, alleging that Ms Owiso’s phone was off, she was online on WhatsApp at 12.34pm.
Ms Owiso, in an interview with the Nation, said that her abductors told her they know her and had her picture. The activist was also the whistle-blower in the controversial Kenyatta National Hospital rape allegations that turned out to be false.
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