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Security tight around Supreme Court as NASA oppose police orders

NASA’s presidential petition against the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta started Saturday amid tight security around and within the precincts of the Supreme Court.

NASA cried foul over the move to prevent their supporters from holding a prayer vigil at the courts and called on them to ignore the police order and hold peaceful prayers today (Sunday).

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Prayer vigil

On Saturday, Nairobi County Police Commander Japheth Koome issued orders barring supporters of the petitioner Raila Odinga from holding a prayer vigil at the Supreme Court entrance.

The public was barred from accessing the courts and only the judges, lawyers, Supreme Court staff and accredited journalist were allowed in.

“Please note that I will not allow any person to disrupt the court proceedings, hence the request by NASA is rejected,” Koome said.

As early as 9 am on Saturday, the precincts of the courts had been cordoned off by police in riot gear.

But in a statement signed by ODM’s Executive Director Oduor Ong’wen, NASA faulted the police, saying their supporters are free to hold peaceful prayers and vigil and all the police should do is to provide security as required by law.

“As full hearing of the petition begins on Monday, NASA has appealed to Kenyans in all corners of our beloved country to hold their prayers for justice, peace and good counsel on the part of the judges of the Supreme Court on Sunday (today). One of the sites of these prayer gatherings is the neighbourhood of the Supreme Court building,” Ong’wen said.

“In its known fidelity for respect for the Rule of Law and good order in our society, NASA notified the police about the Nairobi prayer gathering. Our innocent expectations were that the police would provide security to the worshipers and ensure that the Sunday offertory was protected from those who might have ill intent.”

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But police in their response declared the areas around the Supreme Court a no-go zone.

“Note that City Hall way, Taifa Road and part of Wabera Street will remain closed to both vehicular and human traffic. Also, the High Court parking will remain closed for vehicle and small scale traders (hawkers). This applies on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Friday,” Koome said.

But NASA could hear none of it, saying the day of police granting licences for public gatherings is long gone.

“No law gives Koome powers of approving or rejecting notifications for public gatherings. Police can only advice on security challenges and discuss with organisers how to deal with such challenges,” Ong’wen said.

Right to worship

“We are therefore appalled by information that Nairobi County Police Commander Japheth Koome has “rejected” the NASA notification. We hope this is “fake news.”

He went on: “It is even more incomprehensible that the police can purport to outlaw a prayer meeting on Sunday – a universally recognised day of worship for many religions, denominations and sects in Kenya. We cannot allow dark forces to roll back democratic gains Kenyans have fought and won in the last 25 years. We shall resist this creeping dictatorship.”

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Ongwen said all Kenyans have an inalienable right to worship in mosques, churches, temples, shrines and open spaces. “As a party and NASA coalition, we shall be faithful to the law but defy illegal edicts.”

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