Lawyer arrested for photographing KRA’s Times Towers
City Lawyer and former journalist Soyinka Lempaa was on Wednesday morning briefly held by officers from Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) for allegedly taking photos of the protected Times Towers building.
Mr Lempaa, in a Facebook post, said that he was detained at the first floor of the building that houses the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) offices and had refused to hand over his phone to the police.
“I am detained at first floor of Times Tower… I have refused to give the police my phone… They say I will not leave Times tower,” he posted on Facebook.
Mr Lempaa shared the photos that landed him in trouble and appeared clueless that he had broken the law.
It later emerged that Mr Lempaa phone was confiscated by the ATPU and he was released without any charges.
According to a source who spoke to Nairobi News it is procedural for ATPU detectives to confiscate the phone after such an arrest.
“They will just go through the phone and check through the pictures he was taking. Once they are satisfied, they will return his phone,” said our source.
Mr Denis Itumbi, the Digital Secretary in State House, also argued that Mr Lempaa had committed no crime.
But in a notice published on the Kenya Gazette on April 17, 2019, Interior CS Fred Matiang’i listed any building that houses the (KRA) as a protected area, including Times Towers.
“The following KRA buildings are protected areas; Times Tower, KRA Head office situated on L.R No 209/11636, I.R 57055, Times Tower, KRA Head office situated on L.R No 209/8539, I.R 37161 and any other premises where the KRA offices are situated within the Republic of Kenya,” read part of the notice.
The CS in the notice declared that the areas, places and premises listed were protected areas and no person shall be in the specified areas without the prescribed permissions. Photography is usually restricted in protected areas.
His arrest elicited mixed reactions from members of the public, here are some of the comments;
FieldMarshall Newton Mwaura said: “Lempaa Soyinka claims to be under arrest for taking photos of times tower, as to whether its true I will verify later and maybe deliver milk and break to him, however if taking photos is illegal, then all of us who took photos with KICC in the background should be arrested. I can take photos without being noticed.”
Bunei John added: “Luckily, you are in good terms with the system. You have been their foot soldier on social media. Your freedom is nigh. If it was Alai or Itumbi, police would ask for 21 days to complete investigations.”
Alfie KS said: “The sign outside the building says “ No photography.” If you took photos, police have a right of detaining you if you don’t comply by deleting them.”
Senteu Sankale added: “You can forward the pics to me then delete them, delete history as well then give them the phone and ask them for evidence.
Later on I’ll send back your pics. Think!”
Additional reporting by Amina Wako