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Drama as Sonko bid to save MP fails

Seth Onyango @SethManex

Details have emerged over how Nairobi governor Mike Sonko made frantic, but   futile, attempts on Tuesday night and yesterday morning to secure the release of his friend, East African Legislative Assembly MP Simon Mbugua after his arrest on Tuesday.

It was a night of drama at the Central Police station, where Mbugua had been locked up, as the governor arrived and demanded Mbugua be released on a police bond, sources at the station said.

In a stand-off that started at about 8pm and prolonged for almost four hours, officers at Central Police Station were said to have found themselves on the receiving end with Sonko reportedly losing his cool when it became apparent his presence could not secure immediate freedom for the regional MP.

Police sources said the governor threatened officers at the report desk with  unspecified  dire consequences if they failed to heed his demand to release Mbugua. Sonko was only demanding the release of Mbugua but not of his three accomplices who were also held there.

The governor had arrived at the station in a convoy of four cars and tight security at around 8pm and walked to the report desk while talking on his mobile phone. He started calmly by telling two officers on the desk that he was there to secure the release of Mbugua.

Sources had already confided in the People Daily that officers at the station were under strict instructions not to entertain any pressure from anybody to have the MP released.

It was at this point that the visibly irritated governor lost his cool and reportedly begun engaging the officers in hard exchange, an officer said. Sources present as the drama unfolded intimated that the governor would talk on phone and then tell the officers he had spoken to higher authorities to have Mbugua released.

At one time he made a call and put his phone on loudspeaker mode telling them to wait and listen to instructions to release the MP, by whoever he was calling.

“The phone rang but went unanswered, he mentioned a big name but our instructions were firm, the law must be adhered to with no favours,” said a senior officer yesterday.

Sonko, who appeared to get frustrated left the station after spending nearly four hours in a botched bid to secure Mbugua’s release, but warned the officers he would be back and some of them would face consequences for disregarding his demand.

Drama was not over as Sonko reportedly drove himself back to the station  yesterday at about 5.30am without escort to launch another spirited effort to free the controversial legislator.

But, unlike the previous evening, sources said officers manning the report desk withdrew when they saw him coming in and he was left to ask around whether there was any officer in-charge to attend to him.

He left after a short while, to reappear later at the Milimani Law Courts where Mbugua alongside Antony Otieno Omboko and Benjamin Odhiambo were charged with violently robbing former Nairobi Central Business District Association (NCBDA) chairman Timothy Muriuki at a city hotel.

The charge carries a mandatory death sentence of proven but, unlike in the past, the accused can now access bail as happened yesterday when they were released on bail (see separate story). Earlier on Tuesday, Sonko had attempted to rescue Mbugua from arrest as he sat with officers at a hotel near Integrity Centre, where he had reportedly struck a deal to woo the goons who attacked Muriuki to walk into a police trap.

But, instead of calling the goons, the EALA MP instead called Sonko and a group of supporters who arrived at the restaurant. The legislator had been blocked by detectives from leaving the hotel unless he helped in apprehending the suspects whom he is suspected to have unleashed on Muriuki.

Several calls by the governor and Mbugua to several influential government officials could not save the situation. Things reportedly got out of hand when Boinnet was said to have got wind of the news that Mbugua had denied that he was under arrest.

The police chief ordered the MP to be arrested immediately and even threatened to take unspecified action against any officer found “playing games over the matter.”

It was then that the MP was bundled into a police Land Rover and driven away as the governor watched. Even visits to the police station by former Nairobi county Speaker Alex  Magelo and some EALA MPs led by Kalonzo Musyoka Junior could not change anything.

Perhaps to signify how serious the MP’s arrest was, Nairobi regional DCI boss Nicholas Kamwende camped at Central Police Station to ensure all the procedures were followed to the letter, but he was said to have kept a distance from the governor as he engaged junior officers.

Sonko yesterday did not attend a polio sensitisation function where he was listed as the chief guest, as he spent the better part of the morning in court. Outside the Milimani Law Courts, Sonko told the media he was there to show support for the accused and that he believed they were innocent.

On Tuesday, Mbugua who had apparently received information that detectives were pursuing him reportedly called the governor to Sagret Hotel in Nairobi, Upper Hill, where  police cornered him. Mbugua has been in the limelight for apparently spending “unnecessary” time in Nairobi, instead of his EALA base in Arusha, Tanzania.

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