Group now drops bid to suspend rollout of Huduma Namba

Kiambu youth displays Huduma Namba card [John Muchucha, Standard]

A lobby challenging Huduma Namba rollout has withdrawn its application seeking to suspend the process citing court delay in hearing the urgent case.

Nubian Rights Forum (NRF) yesterday told Court of Appeal judges Roselyn Nambuye, Hannah Okwengu and Mbogholi Msagha that it was no longer interested pursuing its application against the government.

Instead, the lobby will pursue the hearing of its substantive appeal on Huduma Namba filed before that court.

“Take notice that the application dated February 14, 2020 by the applicant Nubian Rights Forum is hereby withdrawn for all purposes,” the lobby’s lawyers Bashir, Noor and Company advocates informed the court.

The lobby had initially written to the president of the Court of Appeal Justice Daniel Musinga protesting that the purpose of their application was no longer of use over the court’s inaction to allocate a date for hearing.

"CoA unfairly and inconveniently delayed scheduling the hearing of the Application and has refused to accede to Appellants endless plea to give the Appeal a hearing date. All this, when CoA has priviledged and prioritized application by the AG, including those on Huduma Namba," said Waikwa Wanyoike, one of NRF's lawyers.

According to the letter, NRF lamented that the government had continued implementing the National Integrated Identity Management System and which was its major challenge before the Court of Appeal.

According to the lobby, the government had also rolled out the second phase of issuing Huduma Namba cards and processing data that it had previously collected.

“It has been a year and six months since the date of filing the said civil application no 4 of 2020.  It is now evident that the civil application no 42 of 2021 before the honourable court has been substantially defeated by the actions of the respondents (State),” the letter dated September 8, 2021 reads in part.

“This gravely affects the rights and fundamental freedoms of Kenyans affected by the National Integrated Management System (NIIMS) that ought to be protected in this matter.”

In the case, NRF argued that NIIMS is based on a flawed design and a risk to right to privacy.

The lobby group’s lawyer, Yussuf Bashir, faulted the High Court for allowing conditional implementation of Huduma Namba saying the government is not interested in honouring the orders as it has already announced that it would roll out the remaining part of the project but has not met the caveat set by the court.

“Because of the failure by the High Court to expressly find the design of NIIMS as flawed and the entirety of the amendments to the Registration of Persons Act which establishes NIIMS were unconstitutional, there is an imminent risk that the rights of Kenyans and those of foreign nationals residing in Kenya will be irreparably violated,” argued Bashir.

In the High Court, the lobby group had called an expert witness, Anand Venkatanatayanan who termed Kenya’s system as archaic.

Anand cited changes in human beings, the system giving two different results to the same person and failure by a similar project, Aadhaar, in India.