Drama as County secretary dodges jail time

Nairobi County Secretary Peter Kariuki in the dock at Milimani Court. [Photo: George Njunge/ standard
The High Court was yesterday treated to drama when Nairobi County Secretary Peter Kariuki was hauled in by police in a bid to have him jailed for disobeying court orders.

Mr Kariuki appeared before High Court judge Chacha Mwita accompanied by a police officer from the court cells, after a warrant was effected over the county’s failure to pay Iris Properties and Proland Ltd Sh129 million.

Julius Juma, the lawyer for Proland, told the judge that Kariuki had been arrested and brought to court but the secretary refuted the claim, saying he presented himself to the police after learning about his looming arrest.

As the matter progressed, the police officer disappeared and left the court orderly to field the judge's questions.

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When Mr Mwita asked who had brought Kariuki to court, the orderly rose, walked to the witness box and said he did not know who had arrested him.

Pressed further, he said he was "just a court orderly".

Kariuki then stood up and asserted that the warrant was not for his arrest but for his predecessor, Leboo ole Morintat.

But Mr Juma maintained that Kariuki was the right person and sought to have him released on a personal bond in the event the court ordered that they should have another hearing.

The judge gave the lawyer his file to trace any warrants of arrest against Kariuki and when he could not find one, he asked Juma to give him the one he had used to effect the arrest. Again, Kariuki’s name did not feature.

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The judge then asked what he should do with Kariuki as the arrest orders were issued by Justice John Mativo.

He asked both parties to go and agree on what should happen but they were unable to reach a consensus.

County lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui wanted Kariuki released unconditionally and the case mentioned on September 15 before Justice Mativo.

But in an apparent change of heart after seeking Kariuki's release on a personal bond, Juma insisted that he should be remanded until the mention date.

Tired of the circus, Mwita released Kariuki unconditionally and ordered that the parties should appear before Mativo.

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The county government has been engaged in a long-running dispute with the two firms since 2002.

The dispute also landed former county treasurer Luke Gatimu in trouble in 2016, when High Court judge George Odunga ordered that he should appear in court to answer why he should not be jailed for contempt

High CourtNairobi CountyPeter KariukiHigh Court judge Chacha MwitaIris Properties and Proland Ltd