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Lawyer sues police boss, says officers have turned roads into 'graft dens'

Lawyer Kipkoech Ng'etich speaks to the press at Nakuru Court on September 20, 2022. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

A Nakuru lawyer has sued the Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai over alleged harassment of motorists on Kenyan roads.

Lawyer Kipkoech Ng’etich, in a suit filed at the High Court in Nakuru, claims police officers have turned Kenyan roads into tax havens and corruption dens.

Kipkoech, through lawyer Chepkulul Khatherine, has named the Inspector General of Police, National Police Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions as respondents.

The Kenya National Highways Authority, Chief Justice and the Law Society of Kenya are named as interested parties in the case.

“This matter is about the unconstitutional and unlawful arrest, detention and charging of the petitioner (Kipkoech Ng’etich) and other Kenyan road users on unprecedented speed limits,” reads the suit in part.

Kipkoech states that on December 19, 2020, at about 11.30am, near Mau Tea area on his way to Kericho from Nakuru, he was flagged down and detained by the police for two minutes for allegedly driving above the speed limit of 50 kilometres per hour established around Kedowa Town.

He was also detained by the police on June 30, 2022, at about 7.30am at Salgaa along Nakuru-Kericho highway for driving above the speed of 50 kilometers per hour around Sobea.

He said he filed a complaint dated July 21, 2022, with the police service but is yet to receive a response. Kipkoech, through his lawyer, said he was wrongly and maliciously detained by the police for imaginary offences that are non-existent in law.

Section 42(3) of the Traffic Act, he said, provides that the 50km/hour speed limit signs on the designated spots should be erected to show the starting point and the end.

He said the permitted speed limit for private vehicles is generally 100km/hour on the highways as dispensed from rule 2 of the traffic (speed limits) rules. Further, he said Section 70(5A)(a) and 5(B) of the Traffic Amendment Act No 37 of 2012 opines there is a statutory tolerance speed of 20km/hr for the benefit and enjoyment of drivers.

The police, he said, are in breach of the law for arresting millions of Kenyans and road users for violating non-existent speed limits where they solicit for bribes and those who fail to comply are dragged to court. The police, he noted, fail to turn up to prosecute their claims leaving victims at the mercy of the courts.

The DPP, Kipkoech said, aids the conduct of the police by prosecuting and charging victims of police excesses.

The Office of the Inspector General of Police, he said, has abdicated its duty as it has failed to take any action against the misdeeds of traffic police officers.

Taking advantage

Kipkoech, in the petition, states that he the suit has extremely important implications for Kenyan road users who are not aware of their rights and police are taking advantage of their ignorance.

The Kenya National Highways Authority, he said, has not made known to the public actual signposts in Kenya and there is a need that the court ought to intervene for the sake of the rule of law and human dignity.

Most roads, he said, are not set up with road signs. He wants the court issue orders compelling the police to adhere to the law. The 50km/hr road sign, he said, should be properly erected at the start and the designated end to help road users observe the law.

He also wants the court to issue a declaration that the arresting, detention and charging of any person on basis of exceeding 50km/hr speed limit established at Sobea and Kedowa areas is null and void.

The court, he said, should issue a conservatory order restraining the police from detaining him and any other person on the basis of exceeding the alleged speed limit.

“We humbly pray for a structural interdict directing the first respondent (Inspector General) to conduct investigations within 6 months across the country and ensure there is compliance with Section 42(3) of the Traffic Act Cap 403 and Article 10 of the Constitution on the rule of law,” he stated. 

The matter will be mentioned for directions on October 12, 2022.