President Ruto: No courts of law will stand in my way

William Ruto

President William Ruto addresses mourners during the burial of Michael Maigo, father of Nyandarua Senator John Methu, in Njabini on  January 2, 2024. He accused some members of the judiciary of derailing his government's development projects.

Photo credit: Boniface Mwangi | Nation Media Group

 President William Ruto on Sunday vowed to disregard court rulings or injunctions that he says are meant to derail his government agenda, especially those by "corrupt" judges.

For the second time, the President accused unnamed judges of corruption, alleging bribery in some of the court rulings that have halted some of his key programmes, including the universal health care and housing projects.

In his latest attack on the judiciary, Dr Ruto said those taking him to court and obtaining orders are out to stop his projects, adding that provision of decent housing and affordable health care for all were constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Speaking in Nyandarua, he cited a road in the region that had stalled over a court feud as an example of how development is derailed and ordered the Roads Principal Secretary to ensure resumption of construction regardless of the court orders.

"The people of Nyandarua want development. Ile barabara ya Ndonyo-Njeru-Ihithe mnataka tujenge ama mnataka tungoje maamuzi ya mahakama? Judiciary wanasema tusijenge. Mnataka nijenge? Bwana PS, weka pesa ya hiyo barabara tuanze kujenga. Kwa sababu the judiciary must be answerable and submit itself to the constitution and people of Kenya. Ama namna gani?" he told the PS for Roads despite court orders stopping the project.

He spoke on Tuesday during the burial of Michael Maigo Wawerù, father of Nyandarua Senator John Methu, in Njabinì, Nyandarua.

He said those trying to stop him have benefited by working with corrupt judicial officials to ensure his projects got derailed but vowed not be deterred or intimidated.

In his New Year’s Day address, Dr Ruto expressed frustration at actions he said were hampering the implementation of his development agenda for the country.

In an apparent reference to court cases against some of his policies, President Ruto accused the judiciary of allegedly obstructing the Bottom-Up Transformation Agenda.

"Those who are trying to stop me have benefited by working with corrupt judicial officials to ensure that projects are derailed, but I will not be intimidated," Dr. Ruto said.

In his New Year address, he said: “We must be cautious, lest our professed pursuit of constitutionalism and obedience to the law, turns into an empty ritual and hollow vanity for the majority of citizens. We must take abundant care that our claim to protecting or advancing the people's rights does not deny them legitimate opportunities, or make a mockery of their struggles and aspirations.”

He said it is ironical for a public servant (Judicial officers), enjoying a house mortgage at a 3 per cent interest rate to make decisions that frustrate the housing programme. Such decisions, he added, have potential of robbing millions of youth of employment prospects and denying millions of Kenyans the chance to own a home like the state officers.

On Sunday, while seeking public support, he asked residents whether he should obey or ignore the court orders and the public shouted back in unison that he should disregard the orders that were hindering his development agenda.

The statements are sure to draw immediate condemnation from critics who are already arguing that this is a recipe for anarchy.

Interestingly, in what is seen as a contradiction of his statement, Dr. Ruto said his government, which is democratic, "respects and protects the independence of the judiciary but will not allow judicial tyranny and judicial impunity.”

"It is not possible that we respect the judiciary and yet a few individuals who are beneficiaries of corruption are blocking our development agenda through court cases."

"We have said we will change the laws. We will change the way NHIF operates so that we stop public funds from being stolen through digital systems that protect resources that are meant to help Kenyans," he said.

However, President Ruto further contradicted himself when he said his government was ready to settle the lawsuits out of court.

"We respect the decision of the courts, all these cases we will have to sit down with those who are taking us to court with the aim of stopping projects in our country. We will ask tough questions," he added.

He described the court action as sabotage by individuals who he said are out to derail development that Kenyans have been waiting for years.

"These projects are in line with our Constitution and were passed in the National Assembly," Dr Ruto added.

He pointed out that the projects were in the Kenya Kwanza manifesto, which led Kenyans to vote for them.

"Few individuals went to court and collaborated with a corrupt judicial officer and it was stopped," said President Ruto.

He had a message for those embedded in the former NHIF manipulating the system.

"We support the independence of the judiciary, but corrupt judicial officers who collaborate with those who have vested interests who benefit from NHIF and want to perpetuate judicial tyranny and impunity, we will deal with them. We will not allow them to have a say in our projects," he said.

He added: "We respect our judiciary, but we will not allow judicial impunity by the corrupt in Kenya. We will stop it. Whatever it takes. The judiciary must be accountable and submit to the constitution and people of Kenya. As the President and all elected leaders, we submit to the people of Kenya who elected us."

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua said the President's first executive action [of 2024] should be to restore independence of the courts.

He urged judicial officers not to be used by individuals for selfish gains by stopping developments meant to benefit Kenyans.

"You [President] have never interfered with what is happening in the courts or talked about it. We ask, if judges stop the housing fund, where will Kenyans to live? You stop health insurance, yet people are holding fund-raisers to settle bills. Let judges be patriotic," he said.

Majority Leader Kimani Ichung'wah urged the judiciary not to be used by those who want to sabotage government projects.

"Do not allow yourself to be used by cartels that are sabotaging housing schemes that will ensure that all Kenyans have access to universal coverage, those in court are those who benefited from corruption in NHIF and architects of state capture who thought Kenyans would live as slaves forever," he said.