About 20 politicians from across the political divide are being monitored secretly by detectives from the International Criminal Court who are gathering evidence against them should violence break out ahead or after the polls, and the Kenyan situation is referred to the court.
ICC spies have quietly landed in the country on grounds that Kenya succession politics is always hot and nothing should be taken for granted. The current political remarks by various camps in Uhuru Kenyatta succession has sent signals that all is not well ahead of 2022.
Unlike in 2007 post-election violence when the ICC relied on human rights organizations to gather evidence that led to a number of Kenyans being charged in the Netherlands, this time around, the ICC Kenyan office is said to be profiling people and carrying on the investigation to have what our source said is a solid case.
ICC concern being that the Kenyan case collapsed due to bribery and shoddy investigation as Moreno Ocampo based his evidence on busybodies and political wheeler-dealers out to fix each other. According to the Rome Statute that formed the ICC, the court can only intervene where a state is unable to prosecute perpetrators of crimes against humanity.
The cases are referred by the United Nations Security Council. Sources familiar with the developments revealed that the ICC sleuths landed in the country three months ago on the invitation of the local office after getting signals that the local politics is getting toxic and unless checked, there is a likelihood of an outbreak of violence, which will see the Kenyan situation referred to the court.
The ICC, sources added, does not want to be caught off-guard as it happened during the 2007/08 post-election violence where the prosecution relied on evidence gathered by nongovernmental organizations to prosecute the cases facing Uhuru, former head of Public Service Francis Muthaura and William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua Sang.
The two cases were terminated due to lack of sufficient evidence and alleged witness intimidation, dealing a major blow to the Office of the ICC Prosecutor headed by Gambian Fatou Bensouda. The Kenyan case was referred to the ICC by the chief mediator during the 2007/08 post-election violence, former United Secretary General Koffi Annan, after the country failed to form a tribunal to prosecute the perpetrators of the chaos.
According to sources, some senior government officials are facilitating the ICC sleuths to gather evidence to nail those culpable. The government officials’ action is informed by the fact that the police might find prosecuting the suspects a hard nut to crack due to interference by politicians who will shout on top of rooftops that their communities are being targeted.
Insiders add that the ICC sleuths are now monitoring the activities of about 20 politicians who are feared to be fanning ethnic antagonism. The politicians are allied of Ruto, Raila Odinga the main protagonists in the impending 2022 general election. Not out of the radar are politicians in Uhuru’s camp.
The two leaders are also gearing up for a face-off in the planned referendum on constitutional changes. Raila and Uhuru are expected to lead the campaigns for the adoption of the building bridges initiative proposals while Ruto has vowed to lead its rejection should it fail to capture the aspirations of Kenyans as he sees them.
Insiders added that this time around, the ICC will not shy away from prosecuting the top leaders be it Raila or Ruto should they be implicated if violence breaks up. This is unlike during the 2007/08 post-election violence where the ICC spared the then presidential candidates Raila and President Mwai Kibaki on the argument there was no sufficient evidence to indict them.
The sparing of the duo, who were the main protagonists in the bloodbath, weakened the cases to a great extent. Curiously, Kibaki and Raila were not even summoned to record statements despite being mentioned by several witnesses as having a hand, either directly or indirectly, in the chaos.
Insiders revealed that the recordings the ICC detectives are making include hate speeches the targets are making in public rallies, text messages they are sending their foot soldiers and telephone calls. Those on the list include Emurua Dikirr MP Johanna Ng’eno who two weeks ago was charged with hate speech under the Cohesion and Integration Act.
Ng’eno was charged over utterances he made in Trans Mara West over Mau Forest where in a five-minute clip circulated online, he was captured lashing out at Uhuru, accusing him of sidelining Ruto in the management of the country’s affairs. The MP is accused of uttering words that are likely to stir ethnic animosity among communities residing within the Trans Mara area.
Also on the list is Kapseret lawmaker Oscar Sudi who was last week charged with two counts of hate speech and an additional charge on offensive conduct. The vocal legislator was also accused of hurling insults at Uhuru’s mother, Mama Ngina. Another ICC target is Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria who in the past faced hate speech charges.
Kuria had been accused of making hate speech remarks at Gatundu Stadium in Kiambu county for uttering words which indicated bringing physical harm to persons in Kenya opposed to the National Youth Service programmes in 2015. Former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama who has now joined Ruto’s camp is also among those being monitored by ICC for his unmeasured rhetoric.
Muthama was one time charged with hate speech but the charges were later dropped. Embakasi East MP Paul Ongili, popularly known as Babu Owino, is also among the ICC’s targets. The MP had been charged with two counts of subversion and uttering abusive words against Uhuru when he uttered words calculated to excite disaffection against the president by calling Uhuru mtoto wa mbwa Kiswahili for the son of a bitch.
He also faced an alternative charge of incitement to violence and uttering words calculated to lead to disobedience of lawful authority. Insiders added that the MPs who had faced hate speech charges in the past are also on ICC’s cameras.
They include Junet Mohamed (Suna East), Timothy Bosire (Kitutu Masaba), Kimani Ngunjiri (Bahati) former Kiambu governor Ferdinand Waititu, Busia woman representative Florence Mutua and Malindi MP Aisha Jumwa. Also on the list is Migori governor Okoth Obado.
The besieged governor is an associate of Ruto. Mombasa woman representative Mishi Mboko is also on ICC focus. In the past, Mboko faced hate speech charges emanating from remarks she made. The remarks saw her face incitement to violence and ethnic hatred charges.
She had also called for a revolution in the country and also issued a threat to two communities in Mombasa. ICC is now monitoring her activities. ICC is monitoring politicians’ social media comments.