Embakasi East MP Paul Ongili, popularly known as Babu Owino, has been arrested by police officers from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).
Mr Owino was arrested in Nairobi’s Central Business District at 4pm Monday and taken to the DCI headquarters along Kiambu Road for questioning.
Nairobi County Police Commander Japhet Koome confirmed the arrest, but did not give further details concerning reasons for his arrest and where he was being held.
His arrest comes a day after the legislator made derogatory remarks allegedly targeting President Uhuru Kenyatta during an opposition rally in Kawangware, Nairboi on Sunday.
The remarks angered several Kenyans online who asked the police to arrest him for hate remarks against the Presidency.
Mr Owino had earlier in the day, in a Facebook Post denied referring to the President in the remarks he made.
He said, “I will not apologise to anyone because I called nobody’s name during my yesterday’s address. We have so many presidents in Kenya, from the President of Sonu (University of Nairobi student union), to all presidents of student unions in Kenya. President of the Supreme Court, President of the Youth Senate and many more.”
Earlier in the day, sporadic protests broke out in Kiambu County, after angry residents took to the streets to demand the arrest of Mr Owino.
The placard and twig waving-protesters, who barricaded the Kiambu Town’s main road for hours using stones and a huge bonfire said the Orange Democratic Party lawmaker remarks were an insult to Mr Kenyatta and former First Lady Mama Ngina Kenyatta.
Similar protests were witnessed in Githurai where police used teargas to disperse an angry mob which had barricaded the busy Thika Super Highway, in Ruiru Town where a bonfire was lit by residents, who were chanting anti-Owino slogans and at Thindigua along Kiambu Road where the protesters used stones.
The demonstrators said the MP must also apologise to the President and his mothers, saying the remarks were a show of lack of respect to his elders, and accused the government agencies of being selective him handling such matters.
The protests, which saw hundreds of demonstrators, mostly women march within the towns, came even as a section of leaders angrily reacted, and asked the police to take quick action against the MP following the remarks which went viral on Sunday evening.
Though the youthful MP did not mention names, leaders both in Jubilee and Nasa as well as the protestors believe the remarks, which he made at a Nasa rally at Kawangware in Nairobi on Sunday were directed the president.
Gatundu South Member of Parliament Moses Kuria and Leinford Mutembei, who is the chairman of a youth political lobby group dubbed Mount Kenya Youth Caucus, said the MP should be arrested, failure to which, unspecified consequences will follow.
Mr Kuria, in his Facebook account told DCI boss Ndegwa Muhoro, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett, NCIC boss Francis Ole Kaparo and Director of Public Prosecution Keriako Tobiko to act immediately.
“I still hold you in high regard. The cell number 4 at Pangani (police station) which has hosted me frequently is waiting for Babu Owino. I trust this will be done today (Monday) to save me unnecessary time, effort and resources tomorrow,” Mr Kuria said.
Mr Mutembei, while addressing a presser in Kiambu yesterday said Mr Owino’s action did not match up the integrity of a leaders, saying it portrayed him as a mannerless, shameless and immature person, who do not deserve to hold any public office.”
“Babu should respect the President and the First Family. His has closed the line. His remarks are not only disrespectful, but a show that he has no manners and that he is still grappling with immaturity. He should just grow up,”
“The MP should make an apology, Mama Ngina never involved herself in political campaigns and I wonder how and why the MP had to make remarks which appear to demean her. The DCI should move with speed and have him arrested, and my appeal to the electorate is that they should vet leaders before electing them,” Mr Mutembei said, adding that the MP was a disgrace to young leaders.
Ms Gladys Chania, a Kiambu politician said, “This is showing a total decay on our moral fabric and national values, something need to be done soonest,”
But even as Mr Owino continued to exhibit arrogance and defiance on his Facebook account despite the protests, his colleagues in ODM, led by Nairobi Woman Representative Esther Passaris condemned his actions, asked him to embrace tolerance and even apologised to Mama Ngina.
“No matter how big our differences or how low we think of each other, there is a line that should not be crossed. As a mother, I sincerely apologize to the former First Lady, Her Excellency Mama Ngina Kenyatta, and her family over the insult and disrespect meted on her, which neither depicts nor reflects the character or direction envisaged by our Party leader The Rt Hon. Raila Odinga and the NASA principals,” said Ms Passaris
Ms Passaris said the freedom of speech comes with responsibility, and begged her fellow politicians and Kenyans on both political divide not to abuse it, whether on social media or otherwise.