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Court frees ‘patriotic’ man who blocked Uhuru convoy with handshake banner

A Mombasa magistrate has released a man charged with obstructing President Uhuru Kenyatta’s convoy and praised him for  being ‘patriotic and spreading peace’.

Thirty-year old Collins Ochieng Obado was arrested on Monday after he on stood on Mama Ngina Drive with the hope of catching President Kenyatta’s eye as he made his way to State House, Mombasa.

Mr Ochieng had positioned himself along the road leading to State House, displaying a placard containing the portrait of Mr Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga.

The placard was written “The Golden Handshake, Amani, Umoja, Upendo na Ushirikiano”.

BUNDLED INTO POLICE CAR

But as soon as the president’s convoy approached, security officers pounced on him, bundled him in a police vehicle and escorted him to a police station.

And with that, Mr Ochieng’s dream of drawing the president’s attention and greet him was cut short.

His expectation was to secure a job from the president. Instead he got a three-day stay in police cells.

On Wednesday, he was before Mombasa Senior Resident Magistrate Erick Mutunga and charged with the offence of creating disturbance in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace, contrary to section 95(1)(b) of the Penal Code.

In the charge sheet, the suspect was accused that, with others not before the court, he created disturbance in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace by displaying a placard of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga knowing this to be unlawful. Mr Ochieng pleaded guilty.

When the charge was read, the puzzled magistrate asked State Counsel Shakwila Ayekha if that amounted to an offence.

“What offence did the suspect commit by simply displaying a placard? What is wrong with what he was doing?” Mr Mutunga asked.

Mr Ayekha said at around 5pm, the suspect was found trying to obstruct the convoy of the President by displaying the placard which was in his possession.

“The suspect was trying to obstruct the President without invitation from State House security details. He was arrested and placed in cells awaiting to be charged with the offence of creating disturbance as per the law,” the prosecutor said.

SECURE A JOB

In mitigation, Mr Ochieng told the court that he was only looking for an opportunity to show the President what he is capable of doing so that he (Mr Kenyatta) can help him secure a job.

“I am still young, energetic and jobless so I don’t want to waste my time stealing from people or engaging any criminal activity. I wanted him (President Kenyatta) to see the portrait so that from it he can help me to find a better job,” he said amid laughter from a fully packed court.

“I don’t want to be a beggar in the street because I am still energetic and vibrant. I need a job so that I can sustain myself, my family members and the entire society, that is why I displayed the placard to attract attention of the President,” he said

The magistrate, in his ruling, described the suspect as a patriotic Kenyan who was spreading peace and that he had not committed an offence by displaying the placard which contained a message of peace.

“The suspect was spreading a message of unity, the court therefore discharges him (the suspect) and order that he be released unconditionally,” Mr Mutunga said.

The court also ordered that the placard, which was produced as exhibit, be released to the suspect forthwith.