THE Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday ordered the arrest of Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) National Chairman, Freeman Mbowe and Member of Parliament (MP) for Tarime Urban, Ester Matiko for jumping bail.
As the court was taking such decision, other senior officials with the country's main opposition party charged with seditious charges alongside Mbowe and Matiko boycotted the proceeding by refusing to cooperate with the Magistrate in whatever he was directing them to do.
In a related event, Advocate Jamhuri Johnson, who was representing Iringa MP Peter Msigwa in the trial, decided to disqualify himself having been dissatisfied on the way the proceedings were being conducted.
Principal Resident Magistrate Wilbard Mashauri issued the arrest warrant against the two accused when he was acting on a request by the prosecution, who had moved the court for the orders in terms of section 176 to 160 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA).
The Magistrate directed that upon their arrest, the two accused must be brought to court for them to show cause why bail extended to them should not be cancelled. The two had brought sureties in court to account for their absence. However, the Magistrate rejected the reasons advanced.
One of the sureties informed the court that Mbowe had gone to Dubai to receive treatment, while the other submitted some documents showing Matiko had been sent to Burundi by the Clerk of the National Assembly to attend some parliamentary activities.
During the session, Advocate Peter Kibatala, for the accused, was not present. His co-member of the bar, John Malya, who held his brief, stretched his legal muscles in attempt to salvage Mbowe and Matiko's boat from capsizing, but he was not successful.
He had submitted that the provisions cited by the prosecution team, led by Principal State Attorneys Faraja Nchimbi, Dr Zainab Mango and State Attorney Jacqueline Nyantori, to support the application were irrelevant and throw the ball to sureties, who should be given time to bring the accused.
Under the circumstances, the Magistrate proceeded to hear the case in the absence of advocate Kibatala and the two accused in terms of section 226 of CPA, a situation which caused the other accused to refuse to respond to the memorandum of facts presented by the prosecution.
Despite the Magistrate using the provision of section 291 (2) of CPA to guide them on what is required to be done during the session, the accused persistently maintained that they would not say anything unless they are led by their advocate.
Even after the Magistrate had recorded on the position they had taken on the matter, the accused further refused to sign the court record as required by the law for similar reason. As the proceedings were in motion, advocate Johnson decided to pull off his service.
The advocate told the court that he had never witnessed such conduct of proceedings for him being denied time to consult his client before allowing the prosecution to present the memorandum of facts of the case. Thereafter, the Magistrate adjourned the case to November 12, 2018, for full hearing.
Other accused persons in the trial are Vicent Mashinji , the party's Secretary General, John Mnyika, who is Deputy Secretary General (Mainland), Salum Mwalimu, the Deputy Secretary General (Zanzibar), Kawe MP Halima Mdee, Tarime Rural MP John Heche and the MP for Bunda Urban Ester Bulaya.
They are charged with 11 counts of conspiracy to commit offences, unlawful assembly, rioting after proclamation, and inciting commission of offences, raising discontent and ill-will for unlawful purposes and sedition allegedly committed between February 1 and 16, 2018 in the city.