Three charged with causing terror in Ruto's rally, freed on bond

President William Ruto addressing members of the public in Bomet town on March 16, 2024. Dr Ruto condemned political violence, heckling and chaos in his rallies sponsored by leaders with competing interests. 

Photo credit: File| Nation Media Group

Three people who were charged with promoting war-like activities, causing terror and stoning members of the public at a rally called by President William Ruto in Bomet have been released on Sh100,000 bond.

This came as several political activists and county government employees went underground to avoid arrest after learning that police were on their radar for their alleged involvement.

Michael Ngeno alias Cheboror, Donex Kiplangat Biegon alias Generali or Jeshi and Paul Kiprono Bett were arraigned before Bomet Principal Magistrate M. O. Rabera where they denied the charges preferred against them.

Mr Rabera released them on a Sh100,000 bond and a surety of a similar amount following the application by their advocates, with the pre-trial set for April 9.

"...On March 16, 2024, in Bomet Township, jointly with others not before the court, conspired together to commit a felony namely promoting war-like activities by shouting, chanting and pelting stones to the crowd in a meeting convened by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya,”  the charge sheet read.

They were also charged with throwing crude weapons and stones at the gathering at a Presidential function with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.

The three were released on Friday after spending two days at the Bomet GK remand prisons as they waited for the court to make a ruling on their bail application filed on Wednesday when they were arraigned in court.

The prosecution tabled an affidavit from the investigations officer Patrick Nyaoke indicating that the offences against public order and safety were serious and the suspects should be held in custody until the case is heard and determined.

“There has been a lot of political interference in the case with intimidation occasioned to witnesses most of whom are civilians, leading to their reluctance to record statements,” Mr Waweru told the court.

He stated that the release of the suspects on bond had the potential of the situation (breach of public order) persist and that a message needs to be sent out to other potential suspects by holding the two accused persons in remand.

Mr Barusei and Mr Ondieki however opposed the position taken by the suspects being held in custody saying they had a fixed aboard, had been out on a police bond of Sh 70,000 each, and that it was their constitutional right to be granted bail.

“The prosecution should not invite the court to political perceptions at the expense of the constitutional right of the accused persons. The accused persons have not interfered with the investigations or witnesses in whatever manner,” Mr Barusei said.

Several suspects being sought by the police are said to have gone underground following a directive by Cabinet Secretary for Interior Kithure Kindiki that they be dealt with for disrupting a Presidential function.

Governors – Professor Hillary Barchok (Bomet) and Dr Erick Mutai (Kericho) had a rough time during President Ruto’s tour as they were repeatedly heckled by the crowd to the surprise of dignitaries in the entourage.

Some of those sought are former Members of the County Assembly, employees of the Bomet county government and political activists.

“It is true that some of those involved in the planning, funding and execution of the chaos in the Presidential function are on the run. They have gone into hiding, but they can rest assured that however long it takes, they will be arrested and prosecuted,” A senior police officer involved in the investigations told Nation on Friday.

“Those who have gone into hiding should know the law will catch up with them. We will deal with them and ensure there will be no recurrence of such chaos as witnessed in the future,” Dr Ahmed Omar, the Bomet County Commissioner said in a press conference on Monday.

Speaking when he toured Kericho, Nandi and Trans Nzoia, Professor Kindiki said the growing political intolerance – that saw Kericho Governor Erick Mutai and Bomet Governor Hillary Barchok – repeatedly shouted down at Presidential functions that were temporarily disrupted - is unacceptable.

“The security team is tasked to reign in on incidents of disorderly conduct in political meetings, conclude investigations and apprehend the organizers, financiers, and perpetrators of hooliganism in the County, regardless of their political or social standing” Prof Kindiki stated.

“Increasing tendency of intolerance among political leaders and we are asking them to contact meetings within the law and they must maintain the peace (in their political meetings). No person is allowed to disrupt public meetings, use goons to cause violence or harass members of the public.

Said the CS, “Politicians are allowed to differ on ideologies, programs or programs, policies and viewpoints because our constitution allows for democracy, but no politician of whatever stature is allowed to use violence, goons, to harass, intimidate the public against each other.”