Cases of top state officers disobeying court orders alarming

Justice Joseph Sergon. Justice Sergon jailed Defence Principal Secretary Saitoti Torome for six months for failing to pay Sh17.2 million to a family in a land case. []

Cases of high ranking state officials who have been held in contempt by Kenyan courts for failing to obey court orders set a new record in 2017.

Defense Principal Secretary Saitoti Torome ranks top of the list.

Torome is currently battling two suits which are pushing for his incarceration for failing to obey two court orders.

In one case, Torome failed to pay Sh17.2 million to a family that gave land to the government in 2006.

This has attracted a six-month jail sentence. In the other case, lawyers of disabled former Kenya Defense Forces unit soldier Isaiah Oduor Ochanda are pushing for the jailing of Torome after he failed to pay Sh19 million since 2011.

Ochada’s case was heard by Lady Justice Roselyne Aburili. Ochada’s lawyers are now pushing for his incarceration or pay a fine of Sh500, 000.

Several judges who have been handling the cases have also spoken about increased disobedience of court orders by high ranking state officials.

Justice Francis Gikonyo recently said as quoted by Daily Nation: “In these cases, I see continuous disobedience of lawful court orders by government officials without any justifiable cause or explanation.”

High Court judge George Odunga added: “In my considered view, court orders are not made in vain and are meant to be complied with. If for any reason a party has difficulty in complying with court orders, the honourable thing to do is to come back to court and explain the difficulties faced in the need to comply with the order.”

In March last year, an arrest warrant was issued against Interior PS Karanja Kibicho for failing to pay Joshua Mutua his compensation after he was awarded Sh383,022 by the court seven years ago.

Mutua was knocked down by KDF van in 2007. He was awarded Sh122,526 with interest of 12 per cent per year until payment was done in full.

In 2014, the then Defense PS Dr Monicah Juma as held in contempt of court and an arrest warrant issued against her.

A children’s court in Mombasa alleged that the PS failed to enforce a court order against a KDF soldier, Omar Mohammed Mubea who had been sued for child neglect.

She was required to attach his salary.

In light of the matter, lawyer James Mwamu said the discussion of top civil servants disobeying court orders needs President Uhuru Kenyatta and CJ Maraga to have a debate.

“I think this is where leadership should come in. The CJ should meet with not only the President but also the Speakers because I believe some have also ignored court orders, and agree that court directives should be obeyed. We cannot have a country where everyone is a law unto themselves.”