Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang was on Wednesday dramatically arrested as the government began a crack down on those who plotted and aided the “swearing-in” of opposition leader Raila Odinga as the “people’s president”.
Mr Kajwang — who was to be the oath administrator, although Mr Odinga ended up reading it directly from a paper — was arrested by plainclothes police officers at the Milimani Law Courts and driven to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters moments after he joked about his new title — “Chief Justice” Kajwang’ — which he said he earned during the ceremony.
Earlier, there were conflicting reports on the whereabouts of Mr Odinga with some aides suggesting he had travelled to Tanzania.
Mr Kajwang had appeared before High Court judge George Odunga for a ruling in a case in which the Parliamentary Service Commission has sued the Salaries and Remuneration Commission over the MPs’ pay cut.
The judge had just finished delivering the ruling when Mr Kajwang’ stood up to thank him.
“My Lord, you can as well refer to me as CJ Kajwang’ following yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony of the people’s president,” Mr Kajwang said.
Little did he know that plainclothes officers were waiting for him outside the courts where they would pounce on him and drive away with him.
He would later confirm through a text message that he had been arrested by eight Flying Squad officers.
“If my arrest and prosecution will be the ultimate price I must pay for my role in the swearing of the people’s president, so be it.
“That will be a small price to pay compared to what Raila Amolo Odinga has paid all his life for political justice in this country,” he said.
On Wednesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i warned that the government will continue with the crack down.
“The government has commenced full investigations around the purported swearing-in of Raila Odinga.
“The investigations will extend to co-conspirators and facilitators. Upon completion, appropriate action will be taken according to the laws of Kenya,” Dr Matiang’i said on the steps of Harambee House.
Aides who spoke to the Nation said Mr Odinga went to Tanzania for a ‘brief holiday’ as he ponders the future of the coalition left scarred by Tuesday’s events.
While Nation could not independently verify reports of his leaving the country, the dial tone on Mr Odinga’s phone sounded like that of one outside Kenya.
Later in the evening, his phones went through and some of his aides insisted he had not gone anywhere.
“Raila had not left the country and will not,” his spokesman Dennis Onyango said in a terse message.
This was happening even as it merged that the other principals skipped the much hyped event for fear of arrest.
On Wednesday, it emerged that neither Musalia Mudavadi of Amani National Congress, Kalonzo Musyoka of Wiper Democratic Movement and Moses Wetang’ula of Ford-Kenya were committed to the oath-taking, even though they had publicly supported the idea.
The Nation pieced together the events leading to the moment at which Mr Odinga took to the podium alone and using a poor public address system, quickly took the 90-word oath and made a brief speech — all in exactly six minutes.
Senators George Khaniri (Vihiga), Cleophas Malala (Kakamega) and ODM treasurer Ogla Karani on Wednesday recounted their attempts to get Mr Mudavadi — the most enthusiastic of the three about the oath and whose betrayal Mr Odinga is said to have taken very personally — to change his mind and attend the ceremony.
“These people (government) are planning to arrest us and my body is not made for jail,” Ms Karani quotes Mr Mudavadi telling her on the phone as Mr Odinga waited for his co-principals at the Intercontinental Hotel.
FEAR OF ARREST
Ms Karani, who would later make a prayer at the podium asking God to “let their people abandon those that abandoned us”, tried to no avail to convince Mr Mudavadi that even if he were to be arrested, the coalition had good lawyers that could secure his release.
At 8am, Mr Khaniri had also called Mr Mudavadi, his party boss, and even after saying he was just about to leave, made a curious comment that put the Vihiga senator off.
He was worried that things were not looking up.
“What do you mean?” Mr Khaniri inquired.
“Call at 10, I will tell you,” Mr Mudavadi replied.
He called back at 10am, and this time, the senator said, Mr Mudavadi was categorical that he was scared of leaving the house, because the State planned to arrest them.
“The decision to recall security personnel from Uhuru Park is a trap to arrest us,” Mr Mudavadi told the senator, who told him of the huge crowd massed at Uhuru Park though he didn’t budge.
“They have opened the road for us to go in then the police will swoop in and arrest us. I am not ready for that,” Mr Mudavadi is said to have stated.
Mr Malala said: “We were shocked when they started calling Mr Odinga at 1.30pm asking for a consultative meeting at 2.30pm when the crowd was already waiting at Uhuru Park.”
Mr Mudavadi was at Mr Musyoka’s home, putting on a brave face on the state of the coalition but at pains to explain their absence at the event.
“We are an integral part of Nasa and we are firmly working together and the challenges that face the country remain the focus of our objective.
“Let people not try to create divisions amongst us. This is not child’s play. Let them stop being simplistic,” Mr Mudavadi said at Mr Musyoka’s home on Wednesday, where he had gone following reports of a night grenade attack.
Mr Wetang’ula had earlier visited the home and dismissed as “neither here nor there” allegations that they had abandoned Mr Odinga, saying the latter was aware of their circumstances.
Mr Mudavadi said that the Nasa co-principals will hold a key meeting “either today or tomorrow” to explain what happened.
Meanwhile, the trio were yesterday roundly condemned by ODM lawmakers who accused them of cowardice.
“There is no cure for a coward. A coward is just a coward and those who were brave enough made it to Uhuru Park on Tuesday,” National Assembly Minority leader and ODM chairman, John Mbadi said at his office on Wednesday.
“I don’t know what happened to the other principals whether they were afraid or not,” he added.
At the same time, Nyando MP Jared Okelo and his Saboti counterpart Caleb Amisi, said they will push for a re-negotiation of the House leadership positions, hinting that they will take away the Senate Minority leadership position from Mr Wetang’ula.
“ODM donated some house leadership positions to the affiliate parties and it’s now time we take back everything,” Mr Okelo said.