NCIC bosses lose battle to stop their sentencing over contempt of court charges

National Cohesion and Integration Commission chairman Samuel Kobia during the launch of the Africa International University Biennial International Conference 2023 on October 24, 2023. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

Six National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) bosses who were found guilty of contempt of court on October 5, will be sentenced on December 11.

The Employment and Labour Relations Court dismissed an application by the chairman of NCIC Samuel Kobia, and five other commissioners, who had sought orders to stop their sentencing.

The others are Wambui Nyutu, Abdulaziz Farah, Danvas Makori, Sam Kona and Dorcas Kedogo.

The court convicted the six commissioners for disobeying its orders of February 20, 2023, which barred them from conducting disciplinary proceedings against NCIC's suspended CEO Skitter Wangeci.

In her ruling, Justice Hellen Wasilwa said the court could not stay a sentence that had not been delivered.

“The court has delivered its mandate by convicting, and there is nothing to stay. It has also not pronounced itself in the sentence, and it cannot stay what is non-existent,” ruled Wasilwa.

The judge said that stay orders were discretionally and equitable, and those who sought it must appear before the court with clean hands.

She faulted the commissioners for continuing to disobey the orders but at the same time, moving to the same court and expecting to be shown mercy.

“The court cannot show the applicants (commissioners) sympathy because they have not demonstrated that they have purged the contempt,” she ruled.

The court ruled that it would no longer extend further audience to the commissioners until they demonstrated they were remorseful and purged the contempt.

“In the intervening period, this court will proceed to execute the sentencing of the applicants as scheduled. They will be required to appear in court on December 11 for sentencing,” ruled Wasilwa.

Following their conviction, Justice Wasilwa had ordered the six to appear in person, before the court on October 26, for mitigation and sentencing.

 Suspended NCIC chief executive officer Skitter Wangeci Ocharo in Nairobi in July 2022. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

However, through their lawyer Muthomi Thiankulo, the commissioners urged the court to suspend the sentencing until their intended appeal is heard and determined.

“The court should stay the sentencing and allow the commissioners to first appeal the ruling,” submitted Muthomi.

He submitted that if they were sentenced to serve jail term even for a day, the deprivation of their fundamental rights to liberties would not be undone, and they would suffer irreparable harm.

“In turn, if the appeal is dismissed, the court would be at liberty to sentence the commissioners,” he said.
In opposition, Dr Wangeci’s lawyer, Ezra Makori, said it was a mockery for the commissioners to say they would suffer damage, as the same commissioners have been mistreating their CEO.

"Wangeci, who was suspended on April 5, is the one suffering irreparable loss. No efforts have been made to lift the suspension despite court orders,” he submitted.

He added that the commissioners went ahead to issue Wangeci with a termination letter dated October 9 stating her CEO contract ended on November 30, and will not be renewed.

The commissioners also replaced Wangeci with Harrison Kariuki, in an acting capacity.

“The respondent (Wangeci) continues to suffer, and she no longer earns her salary,” submitted Makori.

The commissioners face up to six months in civil jail or a fine of up to Sh200,000 each for contempt of court.

Wangeci had been accused of abuse of office, disobedience, and failure to conduct her duties properly.

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