Nairobi lawyer in court over tweets predicting military takeover

Joshua Ayika at the Makadara Law Courts

Joshua Ayika at the Makadara Law Courts.

Photo credit: Joseph Ndunda | Nation Media Group

A city lawyer has been arraigned over Twitter posts ridiculing President William Ruto's government as a "biblical regime" and suggesting that the military will rule for 90 days before fresh elections are held.

Mr Joshua Otieno Ayika was charged with subversive activities contrary to Section 77 (1) (a) of the Penal Code, where he is accused of posting July 16 subversive words prejudicial to Kenya’s public order and security.

Mr Ayika's tweets on his verified Twitter account allegedly suggested that the military was likely to take over the government between Wednesday and Friday this week.

He also faces an additional charge of publishing false information, contrary to section 23 of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrime Act of 2018.

In this charge, he is accused of posting information predicting that the military will have taken over the "Biblical Regime" before elections are held in 90 days, words that the prosecution says were designed to cause panic and chaos among Kenyan citizens.

He denied the charges before Chief Magistrate Francis Kyambia of the Makadara Law Courts and, through his lawyers led by Senior Counsel Harun Ndubi, sought lenient bail conditions.

Contacting his family

The lawyers argued that Mr Ayika was arrested on July 20 and his mobile phone was confiscated, preventing him from contacting his family and lawyers for help.

They sought a court order to release the phone, but Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Joseph Riungu opposed the application.

Mr Riungu said the suspect used the phone to make the alleged offensive tweets and it was listed as evidence in the case.

Mr Riungu sought an order restraining the lawyer from posting on Twitter.

But Mr Ndubi opposed the application, saying the orders sought by Mr Riungu could not be monitored and enforced. He also said they amounted to depriving him of his constitutional right.

Mr Kyambia declined to order the release of the mobile phone and also failed to stop Mr Ayia from posting on his Twitter account.

The magistrate said the police could always arrest and charge the suspect if he made unlawful statements.

Mr Ayika was released on a Sh200,000 bond with a surety of the same amount and an alternative cash bail of Sh100,000.

The case will come up for mention on September 12 before the trial begins on January 25 next year.