After spending close to 80 hours in custody, the six lawmakers left the dingy cells at Nairobi’s Pangani police station on Friday morning with vital lessons for Kenyans.
In separate interviews with the Sunday Nation, two of the MPs, Moses Kuria (TNA, Gatundu South) and Junet Mohamed (ODM, Suna East) narrated their ordeal at the notoriously filthy “cell 4” at the police station stripped of all privileges and dignity and how their confinement inevitably bridged their political and ethnic animosity and united them.
The duo, alongside Timothy Bosire (ODM, Kitutu Masaba), Kimani Ngunjiri (TNA, Bahati), Ferdinand Waititu (TNA, Kabete) and Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama (Wiper) were rounded up at various locations on Tuesday, rushed to court to answer to hate speech charges and eventually remanded at the station.
Their female colleagues Aisha Jumwa (Kilifi) and Florence Mutua (Busia) were locked up at Muthaiga police station. Once in the cells, the “Pangani Six”, as they now call themselves, resolved to set aside their differences and fight for their freedom as a team.
“We agreed that no matter what we would remain in that cell as a joint team where there would be neither Cord nor Jubilee. We appointed Senator Muthama as our team leader deputised by myself,” Mr Kuria narrated.
They agreed to form a joint defence team led by Siaya Senator James Orengo and veteran lawyer John Khaminwa.
To ease communication with the outside world, the MPs pooled resources and purchased a Sh3,000 phone popularly known as “mulika mwizi” which they smuggled into their cell, complete with an Orange SIM card.
It is with this cheap mobile phone that they managed to contact their family members, close relatives and their political colleagues, including Cord leader Raila Odinga who Mr Mohamed reached via a short text message.
“When the CORD leadership visited us, we insisted that either they see all of us-and inside our dehumanising cell or see no one. When the officer refused to grant the principals the clearance to visit our cell, we jointly stood our grounds and refused to be seen in a show case office away from the stench of urine and hardness of cold floor,” says Mr Kuria.
It is in this very cell that the Gatundu South MP, Mr Waititu and Mr Ngunjiri eventually met Mr Odinga, sought his forgiveness and even arranged a lunch date with him in the coming days.
The duo reveal how they were forced to make do with an overflowing bucket for a toilet, polythene papers for mosquito nets, shoes for pillow and coats for blankets during their incarceration.
It is also in this cell that the “Pangani six” also drew vital lessons, among them the need to enact a law to improve living conditions in police cells and prisons. The MPs also resolved to bring down the air of mutual mistrust between Cord and Jubilee that has undermined any meaningful dialogue over the IEBC impasse.
The leaders were released on cash bail pending the hearing of their cases.
Source: The Nation