What you need to know:
- Isaac Kibet Yego's detention at Muthaiga Police Station in Nairobi will allow police to finish their probe into allegations that he wrote and published false information on Facebook.
- Rumour had it that the CS, who chairs the National Emergency Response committee on Covid-19, was sick with the virus and was fighting for his life in an Intensive Care Unit.
A freelance journalist accused of publishing false information about Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i's health status will spend two days in police custody.
Isaac Kibet Yego's detention at Muthaiga Police Station in Nairobi will allow police to finish their probe into allegations that he wrote and published false information on Facebook and a website.
Rumour had it that the CS, who chairs the National Emergency Response Committee on Covid-19, was sick with the coronavirus and was fighting for his life in an Intensive Care Unit.
Mr Yego is accused of making the claim, which the CS dismissed, between July 23 and 24 at an unknown place within the country.
In court on Monday, case investigating officer Nicholas ole Sina said in his affidavit that the suspect is believed to have been behind an alarming post, whose intent was to cause alarm and panic among the public.
The inspector, from the DCI’s Serious Crimes Unit cited Section 23 of the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act No 5 of 2018.
Police requested 14 days to investigate the matter.
“After the post started spreading through various social media platforms, the poster pulled it down but we intend to recover it through forensic analysis. The investigating team requires ample time to have the suspect interrogated as the Facebook page in question has been notorious in publication of false information,” said Mr Ole Sina.
He added that preliminary investigations linked Mr Yego to the Facebook page used to publish the information.
But Milimani Chief Magistrate Martha Mutuku said on Monday that there was no justification for that.
The magistrate noted Mr Yego's mobile phones and laptop were earlier confiscated for forensic analysis.
“Taking the nature of investigations into consideration and that the suspect’s phones and laptops have been seized and submitted to the cybercrime unit for examination, I find no justification to hold him for 14 days. Two days will be sufficient,” ruled Ms Mutuku.
The magistrate made the ruling after Mr Yego, through his team of three lawyers, fought off the police request saying his detention amounted to violation and infringement of his rights, which are guaranteed by the Constitution.
“The investigators have a duty to conclude the investigation before arraigning the suspect. Before effecting the arrest there should also be a preferred charge,” said lawyer Collins Kiprono.
He added that his client was not a flight risk and had a fixed abode.
The court also heard that Mr Yego was picked up by police from his home at Ngeria in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, on July 25 and escorted to Nairobi for the trial.
Lawyer Kiprono told the court that Mr Yego had cooperated with detectives, having surrendered his mobile phones, laptop and sim cards and furnished the officers with the passwords.
“Police should show the nexus between the suspect and the probe. We are talking about a forensic examination which does not require the presence of the suspect,” said Mr Kiprono.
His arguments were echoed by co-counsels Kipchumba Karori and Alex Wamalwa.
When urging the court to grant police the 14 days, the prosecution side had argued that should Mr Yego be released he would likely interfere with the investigation by deleting vital evidence from the Facebook Page and website.
Senior Assistant Directors of Public Prosecution Jacinta Nyamosi and Joseph Riungu also noted that the probe may widen that the detectives could be interested in pursuing the angles.
Ms Nyamso said, “The suspect has access to the Twitter and Facebook accounts. He will interfere with evidence. The forensic experts need sufficient time to collect the evidence and prepare relevant reports.”
They assured the court that Mr Yego’s rights would be protected.
The case will be mentioned on Tuesday.