Police officers in Nairobi have released a suspect who was arrested under unclear circumstances and held without a lawyer for several hours.
Charles Gichuki alias Chaos Kibe, was arrested Thursday, August 20, and detained incommunicado, sparking rage from netizens and civil rights groups who called, for his immediate release.
On the morning of his arrest a fake tweet saying the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) looking for him, had been doing rounds on social media. Minutes later, the police raided his house, taking away his mobile phone and laptop. His site, showing corruption statistics in President Kenyatta’s government was also taken down.
The Law Society of Kenya has also come forward to condemn the arrest and detention of Mr Gichuki. In a letter addressed to the Director of Public Prosecution, LSK President Nelson Havi expressed concern over the secrecy surrounding the police move to arrest him without the knowledge of his family and lawyer. This, according to LSK, violated Gichuki’s right to communicate with an advocate and other relevant individuals as detailed in Article 49 (1) (c) of the constitution.
“The above-named individual was seized yesterday by persons claiming to be police officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and has been held incommunicado since then. His wife who the writer spoke to cannot trace him in any police station in Nairobi. We are reliably informed that he is being held at either Muthaiga or Capitol Hill police stations and that he is likely to to be arraigned in court this (Friday) morning on charges yet to be disclosed,” the letter reads.
Below is our letter to @ODPP_KE. The @IG_NPS as well as @Kenyajudiciary are notified of the fact of our appointment and need to access the information required, to enable Charles Gichuki exercise his fundamental rights and freedoms as indicated herein. #ReleaseChaosKibe. ^POLSK pic.twitter.com/BcPKkITwOu
— Nelson Havi (@NelsonHavi) August 21, 2020
Mr Havi took over the case for Gichuki and confirmed that his client was released without charge, after a night in custody. He is however required to surrender himself to the police after a week. The police are still holding on to his phone and laptop.
“I am delighted Charles Gichuki has been released without charge. I am, however, disappointed with the continued habit of police competing with criminals in the abduction of Kenyans to settle political scores or suppress free speech in the guise of arrests,” said Havi via his Twitter handle.
I am delighted Charles Gichuki has been released without charge. I am however, disappointed with the continued habit of police competing with criminals in abduction of Kenyans to settle political scores or suppress free speech in the guise of arrests. #ReleaseChaosKibe. ^POLSK
— Nelson Havi (@NelsonHavi) August 21, 2020
Kenyans took to Twitter under the hashtag #ReleaseChaosKibe with human rights organizations such as Amnesty Kenya terming the arrest as ‘abuse power’. Through the hashtag, Kenyans called out the police over unwarranted arrests of civilians without following due process as enshrined in the constitution.
— Wanjikũ Revolution™ (@WanjikuRevolt) August 20, 2020
The biggest problem for government mandarins is anyone keeping the story alive. Since they control the media social media is becoming a bother. All this information is scattered everywhere but in singular form. Putting it together and having it accessed is the problem
— James Rut (@james_Rut) August 20, 2020
Amnesty Chairperson Renee Ngamau reiterated this saying, “Those who abuse power depend on the silence of professionals. We need patriots of all professions to speak out and stop the rot.”
Thank you for your leadership on this @lawsocietykenya President @NelsonHavi
Those who abuse power depend on the silence of professionals.
We need patriots of all professions to speak out&stop the rot. @AmnestyKenya @aak_arch @Kemsa_Kenya @ICPAK_Kenya @ICPSK #ReleaseChaosKibe pic.twitter.com/DqoSQmpkKl
— Renée Ngamau (@reneengamau) August 21, 2020
Reasons for Gichuki’s arrest remain unclear though a section of Kenyans claimed that it was allegedly linked to a website he created that linked powerful government officials to corruption.
The arrest of Gichuki comes barely days after two online journalists were abducted, tortured and subsequently released over a corruption expose’ involving Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KURA) and an MP from Mandera County.