Court certifies as urgent Okiya Omtatah's petition on Finance Bill

Okiya Omtatah

Busia Senator and activist Okiya Omtatah.

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

The High Court has certified as urgent a petition filed by Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah and four activists seeking to lock the the controversial Finance Bill 2023.

Justice Hedwig Ong'undi certified the matter as urgent saying the suit challenging the Bill should be heard priority basis as it raises triable issues.

She however did not bar the National Assembly from discussing and transmitting the impugned Bill to President William Ruto for ascession.

The judge directed Mr Omtatah and his co-petitioners to serve the Speaker of National Assembly Moses Wetan'gula, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung'u and the Attorney General Justin Muturi with the suit papers within three days.

Justice Ong'undi directed the State officials to respond to the lawsuit within seven days before June 19, 2023.

In the suit Omtatah has challenged the constitutionality of the Finance Bill 2023 which he says is being spearhead by the President. 

The senator says that the Bill contains 30 sections which he claims contravene the Constitution on taxation matters.

The four activists suing alongside Mr Omtatah are Eliud Matindi, Michael Otieno , Benson Odiwuor Otieno and Blair Angima Oigoro. They have sued CS National Treasury and the AG. They have also named the Commissioner General of KRA as an interested party.

Mr Omtata is urging the High Court to certify the suit as urgent saying the government is determined to irregularly tax Kenyans without justification.

He is urging the court to  prohibit Speaker of the National Assembly from transmitting to the President the Finance Bill if it contains Sections 28, 30, 33, 34, 36, 52, 56, 59, 73, 74, 76, 78 and 79.

In the petition, Mr Omtatah is asking the National Government to make public the national debt which he claims has been exaggerated by over Sh3.7trillion. The senator claims the figures in the public show the national debt is Sh8.7trillion.

"The actual debt must be made public for auditing, otherwise Kenyans will be taxed to pay private debts," Mr Omtatah states in the petition.

He claimes that monies borrowed overseas are stashed in private off-shore accounts and now "kenyans are being asked to pay those debts which financed non-existent development projects."

He has also challenged the conduct of the President on claim that he is misusing the courts and the national assembly to pass punitive laws.