ODM Activist Nuru Okanga Released on Bail After Insulting President Ruto
A political activist and a die-hard supporter of ODM leader Raila Odinga, Nuru Okanga, was on Tuesday, November 30, 2023, released on a Sh10,000 bail after he was charged with insulting President William Ruto. Okanga appeared before the Mombasa Magistrate’s Court and pleaded not guilty to the charge of using abusive language against the head of state.
According to the charge sheet, Okanga uttered words that were intended to incite feelings of contempt and hatred against President Ruto on November 27, 2023, at Bamburi ward in Mombasa County. The words were allegedly captured on a video that went viral on social media platforms.
Okanga’s lawyer, Danstan Omar, argued that his client was exercising his freedom of expression and that the charge was politically motivated. He said that Okanga was a victim of harassment and intimidation by the state for his political affiliation. He also requested the court to grant him a reasonable bail, saying that he was a father of two and a candidate in the ongoing KCPE examinations.
The prosecution, however, opposed the bail application, saying that Okanga was a flight risk and that he had a history of inciting violence and participating in illegal demonstrations. The prosecution also said that Okanga had shown disrespect to the president and the office he holds, and that he posed a threat to public order and national security.
The magistrate, after considering the submissions from both parties, granted Okanga a Sh10,000 bail and ordered him to report to the nearest police station every Friday until the case is concluded. The magistrate also warned Okanga to refrain from making any utterances that could amount to hate speech or incitement. The case will be mentioned on December 13, 2023.
Okanga is a well-known figure in the political scene, especially in the ODM camp. He has been vocal in supporting Raila Odinga’s bid for the presidency in the 2023 general election. He has also been involved in several protests against the government of President Ruto, who took over from Uhuru Kenyatta in September 2022 after the latter resigned due to health reasons.
Okanga has previously claimed that his life was in danger and that he had received threats from unknown people. He has also been arrested and detained several times for his political activities. In March 2023, he was among the thousands of protesters who took to the streets following Raila Odinga’s call for mass action over the high cost of living and other issues. He was later diagnosed with malaria and hospitalised after the demonstrations.
Okanga has also been pursuing his education despite his age and political engagements. He is currently sitting for his KCPE exams at the age of 32. He has expressed his ambition to vie for a Member of County Assembly (MCA) seat in one of the wards in the Matungu Constituency in 2027.