Nairobi News

LifeWhat's Hot

Babu Owino: My harrowing experience in police cells

Embakasi East MP Paul Ongili, popularly known as Babu Owino, has spoken about his experience in the hands of the police following his arrest.

Babu was arrested last week on Monday for allegedly insulting President Uhuru Kenyatta and was charged with two counts of subversion and uttering abusive words against the president.

When he appeared in court for the second time on Thursday, Babu complained to the court how the police brought in chokoraas to harass him.

In a phone interview with Nairobi News, Babu accuses the police of instructing the street boys to harass him while he was in the cell.


Babu also accuses the police of pouring water on the floor of the cell of Pangani Police Station where he was being held on Monday night so that he could not sit or sleep on the floor.

“They brought 20 underage chokoraas in my cell. They were about 13 and 14 years-old. They told me that the police had transferred them from central police station to intimidate me,” Babu recalls.

Upon informing the court of his woes, some Kenyans on social media took the opportunity to mock Babu and speculate on what he may have endured in the cells.

However, to clear the air, Babu says that he came out in one piece and in fact struck a rapport with the chokoraas who confessed to him that the police had sent them to harass him.

“The chokoraas told me, “these people want to finish you” but we have seen that you have been fighting for us and we will not harm you,” claims the MP.


The MP remains adamant that he did not insult the president or the president’s mother, and the statements were taken out of context.

Babu explains that he meant that if the citizen could remove despots such as Gadaffi and Yaya Jammeh, then it will be easier for Kenyans to remove the current government.

“Why would I even abuse someone like Mama Ngina?” Babu asked “What I said is that those dictators were the worst and yet the were removed by the people. I wanted to ask the president “whom do you think you are?”

Babu maintains that his spirit has not been broken, in spite of the rough week he has had at the hands of the police.

After he was released on bail on Wednesday, he was dramatically re-arrested and charged with causing grievous harm to Mr. Joshua Otiende, a former Embakasi East parliamentary aspirant on Amani National Congress ticket.

The MP adds that this is not the first time he had encounters with the police as he has been arrested several times from his days as a student leader at the University of Nairobi.


“They can arrest my body but they cannot arrest my mind. I am a free-thinker. I started sleeping in police cells as a primary school child when my mother used to sell chang’aa,” he says.

Following his remarks against the president, other politicians such as Nairobi governor Mike Sonko retaliated and insulted the MP.

Babu has laughed off Sonko’s remarks and says he has forgiven Sonko, to whom many people compared him for his flashy and dramatic politics.

The MP has often been accused of applying the antics of student politics to national politics, with many dismissing him as immature and dramatic.

However, Babu says he is not about to stop criticizing the government and there is nothing wrong with applying the ideals of campus politics to national politics. Babu was for a long time the chairman of the Students Organization of Nairobi University (Sonu).

“During my reign as SONU chairman, I was fighting for the nation. I inhaled teargas so that parents in this country would not pay more for school fees. Let people not misconstrue that university politics is immature,” he says.


Following his arrest, Babu’s supporters came out to hold demonstrations outside the High Court, with university students engaging in running battles for the better part of Thursday afternoon.

Babu says that this is a sign that his supporters believe in him and know him as a “morally upright” leader.

He however expressed regret over the protests in parts of Kiambu on Monday.

“If Kiambu people can demonstrate against me yet cannot demonstrate against people who have stolen from them, then it is a big shame,” says Babu.