What you need to know:
- Due to the relocation of the court the county is unable to apprehend criminals with most of those arrested by the enforcement officers released due to lack of prosecution.
- The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi however insists that there is no legal framework that exists for the Judiciary to remit funds to the counties.
The Nairobi City County government has opened a new battlefront with Chief Justice Martha Koome following the takeover of the City Court three months ago with the devolved unit now saying it stands to lose a total of Sh60 million of revenue annually.
The takeover follows a memorandum of understanding between the Council of Governors and the Judiciary entered between both parties on 10th March 2016.
According to documents tabled before the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee - chaired by Mugumu Ini MCA Jared Akama - following the memorandum, the Inter-Governmental Budget and Economic Council (IBEC) directed that the judiciary will collect the funds from fines and court-related fees and later remit the collected funds to the consolidated fund.
The counties and the judiciary were also required to develop a legal framework to enable the transfer of specific funds from the exchequer to the County Revenue Funds (CRF).
A resolution was also passed by IBEC requiring the National Treasury to open a County Court Fines Account where the funds collected by the Judiciary would be remitted.
This has however not happened after the takeover with the county government now saying its services have been inconvenienced with the relocation by making it difficult to charge offenders of the county laws.
According to the Acting County Secretary Patrick Analo, due to the relocation of the court the county is unable to apprehend criminals with most of those arrested by the enforcement officers released due to lack of prosecution.
“Our enforcement officers are forced to go to cyber cafes because here we would prepare charge sheets manually. Now they have to go and lodge the charge sheets online. And you know the challenges of access to internet. It has been difficult for us. Sometimes they are taken to police station and they are released without being prosecuted. It is serious matter and it can lead to lawlessness in the city.” Mr Analo told the committee.
In a separate letter on October 2023, the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi however insists that there is no legal framework that exists for the Judiciary to remit funds to the counties.
“As mandated by the law and pursuant to the MoU signed between the Judiciary and the Council of Governors in 2016 and the IBEC resolution in 31 May 2022, the Judiciary will continue to collect fines arising from the enforcement of County legislation and remit the same to the National treasury until a legal framework requiring the fines to be applied differently is enacted,” Ms Amadi said in the letter.
Before the takeover, the City Hall Court had handled a total of 16,858 cases. Offenders arrested by the county enforcement team are now transferred to Central Police Station and not in cells at the City Hall.
The county generates revenue from the court fees charged including the cash bails and instant fines.
The Chief Revenue Officer Wilson Gakuya told the committee they have never received any funds collected by the Judiciary and the county is likely to lose a total of Sh50-Sh60 million on an annual basis.
“For the past three months we have never received the funds into the accounts held by the county. We stand to lose between Sh50-Sh60 million that we collect on an annual basis from the city courts,” Mr Gakuya told the committee.
Mr Akama who chaired the committee told the county executive to hasten the process of getting back the city court.
“This is not an issue about the governor or the county secretary. It is an issue about the enforcement of law and order in the city and if there is law and order in the city, the county administration will benefit. The repercussions have not been felt in the county. Let us take the matter serious before the city gets out of hand.” He said.