Government to appeal nullified formation of Igambang’ombe sub county

Tharaka Nithi County Commissioner Beverly Opwora

Tharaka Nithi County Commissioner Beverly Opwora rewarding a reformed brewer in Chuka town on September 24, 2021. Tharaka Nithi  leaders and locals are challenging a High Court ruling that nullified the creation of the Igambang’ombe sub county.

Photo credit: Alex Njeru | Nation Media Group

Government and residents of Tharaka Nithi will move to the Court of Appeal to challenge a High Court ruling that nullified the creation of the Igambang’ombe sub-county citing lack of public participation.

The administrative unit that hosts the Tharaka Nithi County headquarters was established in 2017 following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive.

Howver, its creation was challenged in court on grounds that the public was not consulted during the split of the formerly Meru South sub-county to create Chuka and Igambang’ombe sub-counties.

Speaking during a leaders meeting at the county headquarters on January 20, Chief Administrative Secretary, State Law Office and Department of Justice, Prof Micheni Ntiba and Tharaka Nithi County Commissioner Ms Beverly Opwora, said the government will conduct public participation within 90 days as directed by court.

They said the government will also seek stay orders on the ruling as the appeal is heard and determined.

“The Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government and the Attorney General which were respondents in the case have resolved to challenge the High Court ruling that nullified creation of Igambang’ombe sub-county even as public participation is conducted as stated in the ruling,” said Ms Opwora.

Ms Opwora said the public participation exercise meetings will be held in every sub-location within the affected area as stated in the ruling and all sectors will be involved to ensure that no one is left out.

The county elected leaders; Governor Muthomi Njuki, Deputy Governor Nyamu Kagwima, Senator Kithure Kindiki, Women Representative Ms Beatrice Nkatha, Chuka/Igambang’ombe Member of Parliament Patrick Munene and his Tharaka counterpart Gitonga Murugara also said they will join the case as interest party on behalf of the residents.

Governor Njuki and Senator Kindiki appealed to the politicians to keep off their political interests and differences and unite to salvage the sub-county that had already been fully operationalized with a substantive sub-county commissioner.

They said lack of unity in the county was to blame for the nullification of the key administrative unit that is very critical in the distribution of government resources.

“If this ruling is not reversed, many administrative units that have been created in a similar manner can also be challenged and nullified,” said Prof Kindiki.

National Museums of Kenya Director General Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia, Chuka University Vice-Chancellor Erastus Njoka, former Tharaka Nithi Governor Samuel Ragwa and Fisheries Director Dr Mutegi Kabisani also appealed for unity in the process to ensure that the county remains united and the sub-county is not lost.

Dr Mzalendo noted that the matter had already divided the county residents and had the potential to cause more animosity if not handled carefully.

“We want a united county where leaders sit down and discuss issues and not engage in unnecessary fights that divide our people,” said Dr Mzalendo.

Prof Njoka said all the affected people should be listened to in order to say which sub-county they would be comfortable to be to avoid controversies.

The petitioners who come from Chuka community argue that the region should be divided vertically from where it touches Mt Kenya Forest to the lower part in order to have Chuka North and Chuka South sub-counties and not horizontally.

They also claim that some areas such as Karongoni sub-location should remain in Chuka sub-county and not the Igambang’ombe sub-county.

On their side, the majority of the Igambang’ombe area who are Tharaka speaking people but minority to Chuka speaking people in the old Meru South sub-county would like the administrative unit split horizontally in order to have their ‘own’ sub-county.

Judge Robert Limo said the creation of the administrative unit violated the petitioners’ constitutional rights and was also against both the national government coordination Act 2013 and the county government Act 2012.

“A judicial review order is hereby issued to quash the gazette notice that created the sub-county,” said the judge.

He said if within 90 days the respondents will not have met all the necessary constitutional measures and steps in the establishment of the sub-county, the judgment with take effect with the expiry of time.

The county commissioner asked the police to be vigilant in order to arrest and prosecute anyone including the leaders engaging in exercises that are likely to cause disunity among the residents of the affected areas.

“I have already noted that politicians are taking advantage of this matter for political gain but security organs are keen to ensure that anyone using hate speech is arrested and prosecuted,” she said.


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