October 22nd 2017

Top Stories / National

Governor Joho arrested in Mombasa, sparking protest by opposition MPs

The governor had gone to secure the release of a relative earlier arested by the police at Urban Police Station in the town, only to be told that he was also under arrest, according to his spokesman Richard Chacha.

By Free Press Correspondentnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comFriday, 13 Jan 2017 17:16 EAT

Opposition MP are blocked at the entrance to Urban Police Station where Governor Joho is being held. (Photo: Free Press Correspondent).

Mombasa governor Hassan Joho is under arrest. The governor had gone to secure the release of a relative who had been arrested earlier today at Urban Police Station in the town, only to be informed by the local police boss that he was also under arrest, according to his spokesman Richard Chacha. The spokesman indicated that the governor has been informed that he could spend the weekend in police cells, supposedly to help police with some investigations concerning the arrested relative, who also serves as one of his aides.

Also arrested with the governor are three members of parliament: Abdulswamad Shariff Nassir (Mvita), Suleiman Dor (Msambweni) and Salim Hanjary Bedzimba (Kisauni), who had accompanied him to the station. Ten members of the county assmbly (MCAs) from Mombasa and Lamu counties were also reported to be under arrest, but the Kenya Free Press could not establish whether all were being held at Urban Police Station or in other locations.

Mombasa lawyer Mohamed Ibrahim, who is acting for the leaders, expressed fear that more opposition politicians could be arrested over the weekend, based on information from his police sources. The arrest sparked outrage from opposition MPs in the region, some of who rushed to the police station to find out what the matter was. The MPs were blocked from accessing the governor, and the officers locked the main gate to the station.

The city was tense this evening as the leaders' supporters milled around the station and in strategic places to discuss the developments just as they were preparing for evening prayers. There were fears that the leaders' supporters could hold demonstrations in the night to press for their release.

Mr Ibrahim and other lawyers were working the legal system to have the leaders released. Earlier in the day, the arrested relative had been denied police bail. The lawyer, who addressed journalists outside the police station, said they were informed that a security alert had been sent for the arrest of the politicians.

The arrests come just a day after the Coast regional coordinator Nelson Marwa and government spokesman Erick Kiraithe warned the governor against rejecting security officials who had been assigned to protect him. Mr Kiraithe went ahead to promise a security crackdown on suspected drug dealers, an operation he said would net "politicians and other suspects."

Earlier in the morning, the police had raided the governor's former home in Nyali, from where he had relocated within the last two days. It is to that old home where the government had sent the new police bodyguards that Mr Joho rejected yesterday.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article identified Mr Joho's lawyer as Mohamed Balala. His correct name is Mohamed Ibrahim.

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