President William Ruto on spot over defiance of courts

Eric Theuri

Former LSK President Eric Theuri

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

President William Ruto has come under sharp criticism over alleged interference with independent institutions and defiance against court orders.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the opposition coalition yesterday said that President Ruto’s new administration was already showing signs of ignoring court orders just like the previous one.

They cited defiance against order halting recruitment of chief administrative secretary (CAS) and declaration by Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua that eviction orders issued by courts be discussed by sub-county security committees before implementation.

LSK said the declaration by Mr Gachagua risks subjecting court decisions to the whims of the security committee and would end up encouraging the culture of land grabbing and impunity.

They have also questioned the tone of Dr Ruto’s remarks after the High Court stopped his bid to increase National Social Security Fund (NSSF) monthly contributions from the current Sh200 to Sh2, 068.

Similarly, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition claimed there was an attempt by the Executive to usurp powers of independent institutions, citing recent decision by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP) to withdraw high profile cases allegedly on instruction by a higher office.

LSK President Eric Theuri told the Saturday Nation that the decision by the Public Service Commission (PSC) to go against an order stopping recruitment of CAS was a sign that the government has little regard to the rule of law.

“The tone of the government is consistent that it will disobey court orders that it disagrees with. The only option the government has in the event it loses a case is to appeal because anything else will be like trying to substitute the rule of law with the rule of man,” said Mr Theuri.

He added that there were all indications that the new administration wanted to continue with the “attitude of the previous regime.”

Lawyer Danstan Omari said the decision on CAS suggests that President Ruto wants to take the path taken by his predecessor, whose administration was known for disobeying court orders.

“Uhuru’s regime was known for disobeying court orders. The Judiciary was the known defender of Kenyans. In this regime, the Judiciary is being turned into an arm of the executive,” said Mr Omari.

He said that signs that the Judiciary was under state capture was the appearance of Justice Martha Koome and the Deputy Chief Justice Phelomena Mwilu in Parliament lining up to receive the President when he opened 13th Parliament.

“We were all made to believe that this administration will obey court orders. Within 30 days they have started to disregard court orders. The DPP is now withdrawing cases without the Judiciary compelling the office to give reasons for the acquittals,” said Mr Omari.

In a statement on Thursday, PSC said it will continue with the recruitment of CAS before submitting names to the President for appointment.

The commission said it has established the position – which the High Court had declared unconstitutional – by conducting public participation that closed on October 6.

“Contrary to public speculation, the commission has not cancelled the advert for recruitment of Chief Administrative Secretary. The commission will shortlist and conduct interviews and thereafter recommend names of successful candidates for consideration for appointment by the president,” said the commission.

Yesterday, Nandi Senator Samson Cheragei – an ally of President Ruto – said PSC is an independent institution that makes decisions without consulting any other office.

“I would say the more things change the more they remain the same. What we are witnessing is impunity and total defiance against the rule of law,” said Homa Bay Senator Moses Kajwang’.