Deadlock at City Hall over plans to move petty offenders court to Milimani

Deserted Nairobi City Magistrate Court on Tuesday, October 03, 2023. [Samson wire Standard]

Petty cases in the city centre including littering, spitting in public, hawking without license, prostitution and muggings among others could bounce back like it was many years ago.

This is because a directive has been issued to move the City court which handles petty cases from City Hall to Millimani to be managed by Judiciary.

The directive by the Judiciary says that all cases be transferred to Milimani Courts. This was supposed to take effect on October 2 but it has been opposed by County Prosecution.

"The county pleas will now be taken to No.23 Milimani Law Courts by the County Magistrate pleas Court,” a notice by the Judiciary reads.

Adding that, “Cash bail and fines will be paid at Milimani Law Courts after issuance of an invoice at the Mulimani Law Courts County Registry counter,"

The move has been opposed by the County Prosecution team which has now expressed their concerns that that city could be thrown into chaos.

“The directive means there are now laws that will be enforced by the enforcement department and now people will take laws by their own hands,” a County prosecutor explained.

The prosecutors are afraid that once the people know that there is no enforcement of the laws and county bylaws, the city will slide back to where it was.

“Sometimes offenders are arrested so as to control some nuisance but now it means that will not happen because there are no guidelines,” the officer explained.

On Tuesday, Acting County Attorney Christine Ireri appeared before the Assembly Justice and Legal Committee led by Jared Akama to shed light on why City Court is being moved.

Ireri told the Committee that the Governor is in talks with the Chief Justice to recognize the unique role of the City Court in restoring order in the city.

The Attorney explained that the issue to move the City Court started in 2016 between the Intergovernmental Budget and Economic Council and Council of Governors.

“The Chief Justice Communicated to Council of Governors about the transition of the County Courts cases to judiciary,” Ireri stated

“However there are some issues that were supposed to be addressed before this transition is affected and we are afraid that the issues have not been addressed,” she added

Ireri said the transition is being rushed and it waters down the essence of the city court being domiciled at City Hall.

“There is a historical reason that the court is supposed to be at City Hall and we feel that the transfer of plea taking of the offenders charged for breaching county laws,” the attorney explained.

The Attorney said the City Court collects over 30 million in fines from the offenders thus it is one of the sources of the revenue to the county.

The County Prosecution has about 50 staff who have vowed not to move to Milimani citing that the move is dishonest.

“We are employees of the county and we cannot move to the judiciary without getting a go ahead from the governor,” the officer said.

Another staff at the city Court explained about 5,000 enforcement officers will likely to remain dormant thus not arresting any petty offenders.

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