Sh15b at stake as judge stops Kenya's Haiti peace mission

The High Court has blocked government plan to deploy Kenyan police officers to Haiti for a peace mission, inflicting double pain to the Ruto regime with the decision coming just moments after the Court of Appeal slammed brakes on the controversial housing levy.

By annulling Kenya's participation in the Haiti mission, High Court judge Chacha Mwita snatched Sh15 billion from the mouth of the Kenya Kwanza government.

Court of Appeal judges Lydiah Achode, John Mativo, and Gachoka Mwaniki said the housing levy was not in the best interest of the people.

The government moved to the Court of Appeal seeking to revise an earlier decision by the High Court which termed the levy illegal, as it targeted a portion of the population, ultimately putting President William Ruto's pet project - affordable housing - in jeopardy.

At the same time, a three High Court judges, Jairus Ngaah, John Chigiti and Lawrence Mugambi, has thrown out a government application seeking to strike out a case challenging its alleged control of parliament.

The case was filed by lawyer Kibe Mungai on behalf of Lempaa Suyianka, Kenneth Njagi, Meshack Suba, Teddy Muturi, Amos Wanjala, Stephen Kihonge, Sophie Dola, Winnie Thuo, Victor Ng’ang’a, Simon Lkoma, Caroline Mogaka and Francis Kenya.  

The three judges dismissed a joint application by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula, UDA, and Attorney General Justin Muturi.

“We are not persuaded that this petition should be struck out on the ground that it is in the category of disputes that either ought to have been brought to court as an ordinary suit or subjected to other public bodies for determination. For reasons that we have already given, we are satisfied that it is not in that category of cases,” ruled the bench, headed by Justice Ngaah.

In the case, senior lawyer Fred Ngatia argued that Wetang’ula was erroneously enjoined in the case. He added that the case revolved political parties, hence should have been filed before the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal (PPDT).

Ngatia also observed that other parties, such as Kennya Revenue Authority (KRA), were named despite them having nothing to do with the political duel.

He also argued that the issues raised touched on the Finance Act, 2023, which will be ruled on today.

“The case cannot be severed. It is so interwoven and the only remedy is to strike out the petition. Let them go back to the drawing board, be guided by law and pursue the right person who they have perceived to be on the wrong,” argued Ngatia.

Lawyer Judy Guserwa, also for the speaker, argued that Wetang'ula of the National Assembly, cannot be pursued in person, both in a civil or criminal court.

"This is a case that had been litigated before this court," Guserwa said.

Azimio La Umoja and Jubilee, on the other hand, supported the case. Azimio lawyer Anold Oginga argued the case should not be struck out. He said Wetang’ula can be sued in person before any court. According to him, parliament and its speakers can be oversighted by the courts.

He accused the speaker, Kenya Kwanza and AG of selectively reading the case. According to him, PPDT has no powers over the speaker.

“This is the right forum to decide this case,” argued Oginga.

Meanwhile, lawyer Ndegwa Njiru, for Jubilee, argued that the issue was about a parliamentary dictatorship.

“Has parliament developed a thick skin that it cannot be penetrated? What is this that parliament is immune from? If it is an action about legislation, then immunity can be argued as shield,” said Njiru.

Lawyer Kibe Mungai told the court that the case was filed by Kenyans who are not part of political parties. According to him, the issue of who is the majority party was settled in the ballot. He said Wetang’ula was wrong by giving Kenya Kwanza the majority mantle.

“When you go through all the submissions, you will not be told that all the reliefs are can only be given by this court,” said Kibe.

According to him, Azimio had 172 seats while Kenya Kwanza had 160.

“The law does not allow party hopping,” Kibe said adding Azimio should be the majority party while Kenya Kwanza the minority.

He tore into the agreements between President Ruto and MPs elected as independent candidates, and those from small parties. Kibe said the Constitution does not envisage an authoritarian rule, where the president controls parliament.

He said Wetang’ula’s ruling that Kenya Kwanza is the majority party has created a constitutional crisis as the President’s party has taken up the House leadership despite having fewer legislators.

Mungai said Wetang’ula has no power to determine who is the majority and minority party in parliament. Instead, the petitioners argue the numbers garnered during the election seal the fate of parties and cannot be altered before the House.

The other concern is whether Wetang’ula ought to have contested for the Speaker’s position since he has not relinquished his position in Ford Kenya.

Kenya Kwanza and Azimio, Kibe said, had agreements ahead of the polls. Kenya Kwanza coalition's agreement was signed on May 8, 2022. The signatories were Ruto, UDA's leader, Musalia Mudavadi of ANC and Wetang'ula, of Ford Kenya.

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