Student jailed for insulting President Kenyatta

Alan Wadi Okengo alias Lieutenant Wadi in a Nairobi court on January 2, 2015 where he was charged with hate speech and defaming President Kenyatta. He pleaded guilty. PHOTO | PAUL WAWERU |

What you need to know:

  • Accused posted comments on Facebook after president assented to new security laws.
  • Moi University learner pleaded guilty to charges of hate speech and disrespecting the Head of State.

A university student will spend two years in jail for insulting President Uhuru Kenyatta on social media for signing the new security laws.

Alan Wadi Okengo alias Lieutenant Wadi, a Political Science student at the Moi University, was handed the sentence on Friday after pleading guilty to charges of hate speech and undermining the authority of a public officer.

The Fourth Year student posted the two offensive messages, including unprintable insults, when Parliament passed the Security Laws (Amendment) Bill on December 18 and the following day when the president assented to it.

He was arrested as he attempted to sneak out of the country through the Busia border and brought to Nairobi for interrogation.

He was questioned by cyber crime detectives at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

Wadi, who looked composed in court, told Milimani Resident Magistrate Ann Kaguru that he was ready to apologise to President Kenyatta personally if he was spared the custodial sentence.

The accused’s plea was not considered when he was being sentenced after pleading guilty to the two charges.

In her judgment, Ms Kaguru said, “The offence is serious and a deterrent penalty is called for to serve as a warning to others abusing the social media forums.”

She proceeded to pronounce the sentence after saying that “he was convicted on his own plea of guilty”.

State counsel Mathew Karori urged the court to treat the remorseful student as a first offender.

However, he asked the magistrate to discourage abuse of the social media forums in the country.

Wadi was accused of stating on Facebook that if the judiciary was not going to intervene and reverse the alleged offending laws “the streets will salvage Kenyans if the opposition won’t lead us to the streets”.

The first indictment was that he posted a hate speech message intended to stir up ethnic hatred between various Kenyan communities by alleging that a particular tribe should be deported to their home county.