On December 31, 2018, 30-year-old Collins Ochieng Obado was standing along Mama Ngina Drive with the hope of seeing President Uhuru Kenyatta as he made his way to the Mombasa State House to deliver his New Year’s message to Kenyans.
Mr Ochieng, who is an artist, positioned himself along the road leading to State House, displaying a placard with the portrait of Mr Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.
The placard had the inscription “The Golden Handshake, Amani, Umoja, Upendo na Ushirikiano”.
But Mr Ochieng was arrested by security officers in the president’s convoy, bundled into a police vehicle and taken to a police station.
At this point, Mr Ochieng’s dream to attract President Kenyatta’s attention and even greet him was cut short. He had also expected to cash in on the portrait he had drawn.
Mr Ochieng was locked up for three days and produced in court on Wednesday where he was charged with creating disturbance in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace.
He was accused that, with others not before the court, he created disturbance by displaying a placard of Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga, which he knew to be unlawful.
Mr Ochieng pleaded guilty to the charge when he appeared before Mombasa Senior Resident Magistrate Erick Mutunga.
The magistrate asked State Counsel Shakwila Ayekha whether what was read to the accused 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 the suspect was found trying to obstruct the convoy of the President by displaying the placard he had.
“The suspect was trying to obstruct the President without invitation from State House security detail. He was arrested and placed in cells awaiting to be charged with the offence of creating disturbance as per the law,” the prosecutor said.
But Mr Ochieng told the court that he was only looking for an opportunity to show the President what he was capable of doing so that he (Mr Kenyatta) can help him get 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 those in the courtroom.
Mr Ochieng, who was not remorseful for what he had done, insisted he wanted the Head of State to sympathise with his situation and help him so that he can provide for his family and also give back to the society.
“I don’t want to be a beggar in the streets 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 the attention of the President,” he said.
In his ruling, the magistrate described Mr Ochieng 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 and orders that he be released unconditionally,” Mr Mutunga said.
The court also ordered that the placard, which was produced as an exhibit, be released to Mr Ochieng.
By Daily Nation