Court denies Ahmednasir's request to dismiss Maraga's defamation case

Former Chief Justice David Maraga and Senior Lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi. [File, Standard]

The High Court in Nairobi has declined to strike out a defamation case filed by former Chief Justice David Maraga against senior lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi.

The senior lawyer had sought to have the case filed by the former CJ against him thrown out on the basis that the alleged defamatory words were not indicated in the case.

At the same time, Ahmednasir argued the issues raised in the case related to the office of the Chief Justice and not about Maraga.

However, Justice Christine Meoli said the former CJ had clearly stated his case against Ahmednasir.

She said Maraga had also indicate that he was pursuing the lawyer in his individual capacity.

“Upon its consideration of the averments in the plaint and material canvassed in respect of this motion, the court does not accept the 1st defendant’s contention that the plaintiff’s pleadings are frivolous, vexatious or amount to an abuse of the court process. Or that no reasonable cause of action has been pleaded against the first defendant,” said Meoli.

She observed that Ahmednasir had filed the same application in two separate cases filed by the former senior judge arguing that they were an abuse of court process.

Justice Meoli dismissed Ahmednasir’s application and ordered that he pays Maraga the cost.

The two are embroiled in a court battle over tweets and publications in mainstream media.

On January 26, 2021, Justice Maraga wrote to the senior lawyer demanding he pulls down his tweet and apologises.

The next day, Maraga followed the letter with an email and informed Ahmednasir that he would take legal action if the demands were not heeded.

Maraga said Ahmednasir did not comply, prompting him to seek legal redress.

“Despite the demand for an apology and an equivocal public retraction, the defendant has declined and or refused to pull down the Twitter posts and or render an appropriate apology to me. I implore this honourable court to render judgment in my favour and grant me the prayers sought,” submitted Maraga.

In his tweets, the senior lawyer had alleged graft at the Supreme Court and roped in the retired CJ.

In all the tweets, he implored Maraga to name implicated judge and even went ahead to claim that the retired CJ knew who he (Ahmednasir) was talking about.

Maraga, in his case, argued the tweet which allegedly attracted more than 500 comments, 381 retweets, and 2,500 likes was meant to disparage his good reputation.

He said he had served the public for 18 years, from the High Court to the highest court in the land and as an elder of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

“The plaintiff further avers that the said publication was both reckless and malicious in the extreme and was designed and intended to inflict maximum reputation damage on the plaintiff,” said Maraga in case filed before the Civil Court by his lawyers Triple O Law LLP.

Maraga argued Ahmednasir has more than one million followers on his page.

He says that the senior lawyer fired a tweet on January 12, 2021, and which implored his audience ‘to read Maraga’s astute silence’ on his allegation.

In his court papers, Maraga said the lawyer’s tweet had six words capitalised and which allegedly intended to draw a conclusion to the minds of the readers on his character.

According to the former CJ, although Ahmednasir claimed he knows of graft, he never reported to authorities, and neither did he report the same to the Judicial Service Commission to have the person removed from office.

Ahmednasir opposed the case. He argued the comments were of issues of public interest and touched on the office of the CJ and Supreme Court president and not Maraga.