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It’s busy season for courts as several key cases to be settled

COUNTIES
By Kamau Muthoni | January 1st 2020
Governor Ferdinand Waititu.

The New Year begins with a busy season for the courts as several cases to be settled will have a bearing on the direction the country will take.

Among cases to look out for are on judges’ appointments, Huduma Namba, Female Genital Mutilation, MPs’ salaries, the Akashas trial, and graft cases against governors Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu), Moses Lenolkulal (Samburu) and Mike Sonko (Nairobi). The other is a murder case against Migori Governor Okoth Obado.

On January 10, a US court will deliver a sentence on drug baron Ibrahim Akasha. Ibrahim was to know his fate on December 6, last year, but US District Judge Victor Marrero postponed the verdict after he (Ibrahim) complained of ‘being confused’.

While cooling his heels at Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Manhattan, New York, Ibrahim wrote to the judge explaining that a telephone conversation with his daughter had mellowed his heart to realise the harm he had done to himself, his family and thousands of families he and his elder brother Baktash Akasha had destroyed through drugs. Ibrahim confessed that he had come to terms with the fact that he turned out to be just like his father, a man loathed and feared in equal measure, but was willing to take the ruins and change his life.

Meanwhile, three days after Ibrahim’s sentence, on January 13, Kenya’s Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji will file his replies on two applications filed by Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) seeking to lock out Attorney General Kihara Kariuki and commissioner Njeru Macharia from sitting to hear the petition filed by the DPP and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti seeking her removal.

The JSC ought to have heard Noordin and Kinoti but postponed the petition to this year after Mwilu’s objection on December 16, 2019.  Both the JSC’s petition and a pending appeal before the Court of Appeal, which pits the three, will determine the DCJ’s tenure in the Judiciary.

On January 20, a three-judge bench will determine the fate of Huduma Namba.

The bench composed of Weldon Korir, Mumbi Ngugi and Pauline Nyamweya will determine whether the data gathered and stored in National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) should be used. They will also settle whether the State had discriminated those who did not have national identification cards and whether it breached Kenyans’ privacy.

President Uhuru Kenyatta in April, last year, launched Huduma Namba registration in Machakos. It was meant to capture biometrics, identification documents – passport number, Kenya Revenue Authority pin number, national ID, NHIF and NSSF as well as personal emails, among other details. 

The fate of the 41 judges whose names were forwarded by JSC to President Kenyatta for appointment will be determined by the High Court on February 6.

Justices Lydiah Achode, Chacha Mwita and James Makau will be settling the question on what should happen if the president declines to make the appointments.

The JSC argues the president’s role in appointing judges is ceremonial. On the other hand, Uhuru said some of the nominees had tainted character, and the commission did not consult for allocation of funds.

The AG, JSC lawyer Adrian Kamotho and Head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua failed to resolve the matter out of court. The parties had been given 21 days to settle the stand-off.

Hearing of graft cases touching on three governors – Waititu, Lenolkulal and Sonko - will commence this year. At the same time, a murder case filed against Obado will be heard by the High Court.

Watitu’s case will be heard between January 21 to February 6 while Sonko will appear before Voi Court on January 21.

At the same time, a maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia will be heard by the International Court of Justice on the week beginning on June 8.

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