7 July 2014

Kenya: Raila Driver Arrested, Released in Gun Drama

Photo: Jack Owuor/The Star
Opposition leader Raila Odinga (left) with President Uhuru Kenyatta share a light moment (file photo).

THERE has been a confrontation between police officers and supporters of Cord leader Raila Odinga at the Kisumu International Airport after police arrested Raila's driver Eric on allegations of incitement.

The driver was arrested and handcuffed, ready to be taken to the cells, when Odinga's bodyguards and some civilians intervened swiftly and demanded his release.

Security officers on duty and and a number of Raila's guards drew their guns in the face-off, but no shots were fired. Cord supporters shouted the police down, pushing and shoving until the officers removed the handcuffs and released the driver.

Eric had just dropped the former Prime Minister at the airport after a Cord rally in Kisumu on Saturday when CID officers pounced on him. Raila and other Cord leaders, including Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang'ula, were in the facility's VIP lounge when the incident occurred.

Police said Raila's driver Eric was responsible for inciting a mob to beat a female CID officer who was on official duty in Kirembe grounds, venue of the Cord rally.

"The officer managed to identify the man [the driver], whom she said incited the public against her and also beat her up," Kisumu County CID boss David Cheruiyot said.

Cheruiyot said they were forced to release the driver as they did not want to cause a scene and panic at the International airport. "We are, however, pursuing him and he should endeavour to surrender himself to any police station. Nobody is above the law," Cheruiyot said.

He described as unfortunate the beating of CID officers during the Cord rally. The officers were roughed up as they attempted to record speeches. Cord supporters accused them of making the recordings to "fix" their leaders.

Cheruiyot said they are also investigating aspects of incitement by nominated Senator Elizabeth Ongoro against security officers during the rally. Airport manager Joseph Okumu yesterday downplayed the fracas at the facility.

"I was at the airport the whole day yesterday and there were no scenes. I think the matter is being blown out of proportion as nobody was arrested and handcuffed," Okumu said.

Kisumu County ODM Chairman Dave Okwach dismissed allegations the driver was part of the group that beat up the CID officers. "The driver was right in the car as the rally progressed and never did he rough up or beat anybody," Okwach said.

He pointed out that the Government was using the police to insinuate that Raila is not a law-abiding Kenyan. "We sense a sinister motive in the attempt to arrest Raila's driver. Allegations leveled against him by police are sheer lies meant to discredit the Cord leader," Okwach added.

He pointed out that police may be using the claims as an excuse to disrupt Cord's Saba Saba rally today in Nairobi. "I think they want a way to make an attempt to arrest the driver in Nairobi today to cause chaos," Okwach said.

Odinga's director of communications Denis Onyango refused to comment on the matter. During the rally in Kisumu on Saturday, the Cord leaders cautioned the Government against using the military and the police to intimidate Kenyans during today's Saba Saba rally in Nairobi.

Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama alleged a plot by Jubilee to print Cord T-Shirts and distribute them to their supporters to cause chaos so that Cord is held responsible.

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