Miguna court orders escalate Executive, Judiciary wars


justice odunga
High Court Judge George Odunga in a past court session. [Photo/Courtesy]

In Summary

  • The defiance shown by Matiang'i, Boinnet and Kihalagwa raises questions over the administration's respect for the rule of law.
  • Seven months ago, when the Supreme Court nullified Kenyatta’s 2017 re-election, his utterances cast aspersions on the Judiciary.
  • In January this year,  the State switched off TV stations that aired the controversial swearing in of Opposition leader Raila Odinga. When ordered to reinstate the 4 stations, it took the government 10 days to do so.

The conviction of three senior government officials this week seems to be part of an emerging trend where State officers blatantly defy court orders.

Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, Police Chief Joseph Boinnet and Immigration PS Gordon Kihalangwa were on Thursday fined Ksh.200,000 each after they were found guilty of contempt.

Their defiance raises questions over President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration and respect for the rule of law.

Seven months ago, when the Supreme Court nullified Kenyatta’s 2017 re-election, his utterances cast aspersions on the Judiciary.

Even though the President maintained that he would comply with the court’s decision for a repeat election, battle lines ha already been drawn.

In January this year,  the State switched off TV stations and radios that aired the controversial swearing in of Opposition leader Raila Odinga.

However when the affected media houses sought court orders for reinstatement, the government ignored the directive. Citizen TV, KTN and NTV were off air for 10 days before being switched back on.

A few days later, self-declared general of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Miguna Miguna was arrested and held in custody at different police stations in Nairobi, Kiambu and Kajiado.

Despite orders to present the fiery lawyer at the Milimani Law Courts, the State was defiant once more, choosing to arraign Miguna in Kajiado.

When the High Court ordered that proceedings in Kajiado be stopped and Miguna be presented before Justice Kimaru in Nairobi, the government deported him to Canada through an order signed by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i.

Subsequently, Miguna’s lawyers sought court orders directing the State to facilitate Miguna’s return.

CS Matiangi, IG Boinnet and the then director of Immigration (now PS Gordon Kihalangwa) were summoned to respond to allegations of contempt of court. They never did.

Seven weeks after the deportation, an embattled Miguna flew back to Nairobi from where he was recently deported after spending several days in police custody at the airport. The State refused to allow him entry.

The current stalemate attracted at least two court orders, one from Justice Roselyn Aburili and another from Justice George Odunga directing the unconditional release of Miguna. Both were ignored.

While hosting the President in December last year, Chief Justice David Maraga raised concern over the strained relationship between the Executive and the Judiciary.

President Kenyatta however downplayed the row, saying: “Grow some thick skin…consult with other arms of government.”

It now remains to be seen whether the latest court ruling–deduction of Ksh. 200,000 fine from the April salaries of Matiangi, Boinett and Kihalangwa— will be implemented.

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Story By Sam Gituku
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