Court rejects Mike Sonko’s bid to stop ongoing Azimio demos

Mike Sonko

Former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

The High Court has declined a request by former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko to instantly stop the protests called by Azimio over the high cost of living and alleged rigging in last year's presidential poll.

Mr Sonko wanted the court to rule that Azimio leaders must comply with provisions of the Public Order Act when conducting the demonstrations. He said demonstrators were destroying property, ruining businesses and breaching the peace.

Alleging that some protesters were carrying offensive weapons, Mr Sonko, through lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui, told court that his application for interim orders was aimed at protecting the rights of property owners and non-demonstrators.

But Judge Hedwig Ong'udi said it was not for the court to force security forces to ensure peaceful processions and assembly according to the Public Order Act.

“Sections 6 and 11 of the Act prohibit possession of offensive weapons at public meetings and processions. Enforcement of all these provisions falls within the docket of the security enforcement officers. It is the duty of the regulating officers and their seniors to ensure compliance with the law as set out to avoid infringement of the rights of Kenyans,” he said.

“It would, therefore, not be proper for this court to appear to be setting out new regulations and policies—which is not within its docket. At this stage, I do not find the prayer for conservatory orders to be merited. Let the officers concerned carry out their lawful mandate. The application is declined.”

He said the Public Order Act also sets out regulations of public meetings and processions and no person is allowed to engage in a public meeting or procession except in accordance with the Act. With regard to Mr Sonko's case against the declaration by Azimio leader Raila Odinga for a public holiday, the court held that a legal procedure on declaration of public holidays is in place.

“What happens when that procedure is not followed? That is the reason why we have the Cabinet Secretary, Minister of Interior and Coordination of national government and the Inspector-General of Police. It is not for this court to direct these two senior government officers on their mandates or on whom to arrest and whom not to arrest. We have a principle known as separation of powers," said the court.