Former KDF officer demands Sh31 million compensation for injury

Isaiah Ochanda lying in a hospital bed before the Senate National Security, Defence, and Foreign Relations Committee. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Former Kenya Air Force officer Isaiah Ochanda who lay in a hospital bed was wheeled into KICC, Nairobi, having been driven from his Athi River residence accompanied by caregivers, his wife and son.

Ochanda appeared before the Senate National Security, Defence, and Foreign Relations Committee to prosecute a petition he had filed.

He sustained life-changing injuries while working as a soldier in 1987 and has been in and out of courts seeking justice and despite being awarded Sh22 million, the Ministry is yet to pay him.

The former Kenya Air Force officer sustained a spinal injury and a fracture around the waist in 1987 that left him bedridden.

He narrated to the William Cheptumo-led committee his 35 years of pain, suffering and pursuit of justice. Hardly audible, Ochanda strained to narrate his story to the committee that listened keenly.

He said his quest for justice from the Kenya Defence Forces had hit a dead end.

Ochanda recounted that at the time of sustaining the injury, he was working in the artillery department at the Embakasi Barracks. He fell while training the Kenya Wrestling Team for the All-Africa Games in 1987.

He was admitted to the Forces Memorial Hospital until 1989 when he was discharged.

Isaiah Ochanda in a hospital bed being wheeled into Parliament Buildings, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

In 1995, he was discharged from the military. The former soldier told the Senate committee that the commanding officer told him to proceed on leave pending retirement.

Sadly, a day before retirement he went to collect his dues but was informed that he would only be provided with a return ticket.

“The discharge instruction letter was sent at night, I was informed my services were no longer needed. I followed up with my Commanding Officer who told me I was to proceed on leave pending my retirement date,” he said.

He said that efforts to get medical discharge benefits and terminal dues hit a dead end, prompting him to move to the High Court in 1996.

On March 2, 2011, Justice Kalpana Hasmukhrai Rawal ruled in favour of Ochanda. He was awarded Sh19,078,1919.78 as compensation. On November 14, 2011, a certificate of order in the sum of Sh22,916,828.34 was issued against the Government.

The amount according to Ochanda has accumulated to Sh31 million. He wrote to the Government demanding payment but got no response. The former soldier went back to court and filed a suit seeking orders to compel the Attorney General and the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence to satisfy the decree.

Documents obtained by The Standard indicate that the officer has been in and out of court. He has also approached various offices for assistance.  In March 2017, he moved to court and instituted contempt proceedings against the AG and the Defence Principal Secretary.

Isaiah Ochanda. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Following the application, the court ordered that then PS Saitoti Torome be cited for contempt. The Inspector General of Police was also directed to arrest Torome in October 2017.

The then Inspector General of Police was also summoned to appear in court on July 29, 2019, in the matter to show cause why he failed to arrest Mr Torome.

In a strange turn of events in May 2023, Defence PS Patrick Mariru in an affidavit said they have issues with the manner in which the award to Ochanda was calculated.

Mariru said they will apply for rectification of the order and award to capture the correct information and calculations. The PS said the Ministry of Defence has made payments as advised by the AG despite financial challenges.

On September 26, 2023, the High Court in Nairobi again issued a warrant of arrest against Defence PS. The Court directed that the PS be presented before the court for mitigating and sentencing on October 11, 2023.

The Inspector General of Police has since been summoned to appear in court on April 17, 2024, to explain why the warrants have not been executed.

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