Court rejects bid to have Kenyans with dual citizenship join KDF

KDF soldier verifys documents at Getembe Primary School in Kisii County during a past recruitment drive. [Sammy Omingo, Standard] 

High Court has dismissed a case seeking to have Kenyans with dual citizenship join Kenya Defence Forces (KDF).

Justice Hedwig Ong'udi said the court has no power to meddle in national security issues. According to her, the best place to change the policy is Parliament.

“It is my considered view that the petition invokes the political question doctrine. I say so because the issue raised will require this court to delve into the government’s political arena of national security which is not the province of the courts," she said.

Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah filed the case.

Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Okiya in his case asked the court to declare the decision to bar Kenyans with dual citizenship from joining KDF unconstitutional.

He argued that Section 129 of the Kenya Defence Forces Act, does not bar citizens with dual citizenship from joining the military.

Omtatah added that Article 78(2) of the Constitution which restricts dual citizens from joining KDF has a rider in Article 78(3) in that it exempts any person who has been made a citizen of another country by operation of that country’s law, without the ability to opt-out.

He stated that KDF had barred all persons with dual citizenship from recruitment in their January 2021 advertisement, however, removed any references to dual citizenship in their advert released in October 2021.

KDF opposed the case.

It argued that Omtatah presented a hypothetical case since he failed to provide any tangible data, statistics or information on those with dual citizenship who have applied or are prospective candidates.

KDF recruitment drive at Getembe Primary School in Kisii County. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

The court heard that there has never been any holder of dual citizenship who has presented himself or herself for consideration for enlistment into KDF.

KDF’s Osman Guyo told the court that there’s a likelihood of such persons shifting their allegiance to other countries in instances of conflict.

He also argued that the court has no powers to regulate the conditions of service within KDF.