What you need to know:
Judge ruled that the Kenya government was wrong in failing to inform Mr Ali that there were investigations touching on him.
The court added that authorities erred for not giving him a chance to respond to allegations made during the probe.
The judge also warned Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai against violations of the law by his officers.
Oumarou Moumouni Ali, Niger’s consul to Kenya and owner of the controversial Kiza Lounge in Nairobi’s Kilimani suburb, is free to return to Nairobi, nearly a year after he was deported over allegations of international crime links.
High Court Judge James Makau has ruled that Mr Ali is a diplomat and is therefore immune to arrest and deportation in the manner done last year.
The judge has also ordered the Interior ministry to consider Mr Ali’s application for a work permit extension within 30 days from the date of receiving the request, and issue a notification on the decision in writing.
Mr Ali’s suit challenging his deportation has also revealed that Kenya had tried to expel the Niger national in December 2019.
Court filings reveal that a deportation order was first issued against Mr Ali in December, 2018 but was not effected for nine months.
Interestingly, the 2018 deportation order was issued just one day after Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued Mr Ali with recognition of his status as Niger’s government representative to Kenya.
A second deportation order was issued on August 14, 2019.
Immigration officials spent the next eight days trying to trace Mr Ali, who was eventually found hiding in Nyahururu.
Intelligence reports shared with the Immigration Department indicated that Mr Ali is part of an international drug ring that launders part of its ill-gotten wealth in Kenya using establishments like Kiza Lounge.
The businessman was bundled into a Niamey-bound plane on August 22, 2019.
And 11 days after his deportation, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i declared the Nigerien a prohibited immigrant, shutting the door on a possible return.
At the time of deportation, Mr Ali had applied for Kenyan citizenship but told the High Court that his requests for a work permit extension and Kenyan citizenship are yet to be responded to.
The Niger diplomat argued in court that he is married to a Kenyan and that they have two children of tender age. Mr Ali had been in Kenya since 2008.
One month after his deportation, the High Court ordered the closure of Kiza Lounge and its Galana Plaza neighbour, B Club, following a separate court petition by Kilimani residents who argued that the establishments were violating noise pollution laws in a residential area.
RIGHT TO EXPEL
The Interior ministry and the Immigration Department argued that they have a right to expel any unwanted individuals involved in money laundering and other transnational crimes that are contrary to Kenya’s national security.
It added that the work permit application was in regard to a firm identified as Linkers International Limited, and not Mr Ali as claimed in the suit.
Justice Makau has now ruled that the Kenya government was wrong in failing to inform Mr Ali that there were investigations touching on the businessman, and for not giving him a chance to respond to allegations made during the probe.
The judge held that authorities should have informed Mr Ali of the deportation orders before kicking him out of the country.
“The petitioner herein was not served with the two (deportation) declarations nor was he given reasons for such declarations nor an opportunity to be heard. The respondents in doing so violated clear provisions of the Constitution and it is for these reasons that I find the two declarations are unlawful, arbitrary and null and void,” Justice Makau ruled.
The judge also warned Inspector-General of Police Hillary Mutyambai against violations of the law by his officers, arguing that his verdict should be a reminder that the courts will intervene.
“From the above, it should be a reminder to the Inspector-General of Police that this court will not tire in reminding [him] that the Constitution of Kenya is the supreme law. It has life and it has teeth.
“It is speaking loudly and reminding everyone frustrating justice that I find justice is our shield and defender. The earlier the Inspector-General of Police should realise that impunity is the biggest threat to the achievement of our constitutional aspirations, the better for those who seek the services of that office,” the judge said.