The owners of a building that collapsed in Nairobi’s Huruma estate and three top public servants Tuesday put a fight to be released on bail amid the push by the prosecutor to have them detained for three weeks pending investigations.
The prosecution wants Samuel Kamau and Henry Muiruri (owners of the collapsed six storey building), Chrispas Sifuma (investigator National Construction Authority), Justus Mwendwa (director of Planning Compliance at Nairobi County government), and Seline Anyango (Mathare sub-County administrator of the Nairobi County government), detained.
They were arrested over the weekend after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered their arrest. The residential block crumbled on Friday night following days of heavy rain.
At least 23 people have so far been confirmed dead and police say the death toll could rise as the search for survivors continues.
The prosecutor, Duncan Ondimu, told the Magistrate Court that the accused are people with influence and may interfere with investigations hence the need to have them held at a police station.
“Preliminary reports so far indicate that the building was illegally constructed on a land reserved for a riparian,” said Mr Ondimu.
He added that several crucial statements were yet to be recorded, some of which include officials of the Nairobi County government, and the National Environment Management Authority (Nema).
“The five are facing likelihood of being charged with either the offence of murder or manslaughter once investigations are complete and hence they are likely to abscond if released on bail,” added Mr Ondimu.
Lawyer Kariuki Njiru on behalf of the building owners said they presented themselves for questioning on May, 1 after the Inspector General of police issued summons, thus a demonstration they are willing to cooperate with the police.
“The two are businessmen who hold no influential position in the society and cannot therefore influence any of the organs charged with investigations,” argued Mr Njiru.
A ruling will be delivered Wednesday.