Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kenya churches urge implementation of kadhi ruling

NCCK secretary general Canon Peter Karanja (left)  Bishop David Oginde (centre) and Dr Gerry Kibarabara during a news conference at Nairobi's Ufungamano House May 25, 2010. The leaders urged the government to implement Monday's court ruling, which held the inclusion of kadhi courts in the current constitution is unconstitutional. Photo/ PETERSON GITHAIGA

NCCK secretary general Canon Peter Karanja (left) Bishop David Oginde (centre) and Dr Gerry Kibarabara during a news conference at Nairobi's Ufungamano House May 25, 2010. The leaders urged the government to implement Monday's court ruling, which held the inclusion of kadhi courts in the current constitution is unconstitutional. Photo/ PETERSON GITHAIGA  

By JACOB NGETICH

The Church has urged the government to implement Monday's ruling that declared no religious court should form part of the Judiciary.

The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) secretary general Canon Peter Karanja challenged the government abide by the law in the regard to the judgement.

"The government is the custodian of law and therefore we urge them to quickly implement the three judge bench ruling on the kadhi courts,’’ said Canon Karanja during a news conference at Ufungamano House, Nairobi Tuesday.

He was reacting to the landmark ruling where an Appellate Judge and two High Court Judges, sitting as a Constitutional Court, ruled that the decision to include the kadhi courts in the country’s supreme law was an illegality that favoured one religion over others.

Canon Karanja termed the ruling historic and clearly stated the need for separation of state and religion.

He said the Church has no option than to reject the proposed Constitution since the provision for kadhi courts remains.

"We are currently conducting intense and extensive civic education for all faithful and other Kenyans as we mobilise a No vote at the referendum."

Contentious issues

The NCCK secretary general restated that it was not too late to resolve the contentious issues in the proposed Constitution before the referendum.

"This can easily be achieved by Parliament convening and amending the necessary Acts as previously communicated."

He insisted that the Church remained committed to the process of getting a new Constitution that was widely acceptable and one that is founded on the principles of justice, equality and equity for all Kenyans.

Reverend David Oginde of the Nairobi Pentecostal Church said the Church would have wished for the judgement to be delivered earlier to check the huge expenses in financial and human capital in discussions on the proposed law.

He regretted that the successive organs of review had handled the issue of religion in the constitution manipulatively.

"Our hope is that all Kenyans will now recognise the matter of religion in the constitution as an issue of justice and not be deceived by the rationalisation of those who represent vested interest.’’ said Reverend Oginde.

Reinforce

On his part, Bishop Gerry Kibarabara said the ruling reinforced the Christian churches calls for the rejection of the proposed Constitution at the referendum because the it seeks to expand kadhis courts among other injustices.

"The spirit and the message of this judgement will always be with us and will inform future constitutional and legislative processes’’ said Bishop Kibarabarani.

NCCK lawyers David Waihigia and Judy Madahana challenged the allegations that the timing of the ruling was suspect and said the three judges were persons on integrity who were simply doing their work.

"How can the Church influence a government project given all the powers a government has?’’ wondered Ms Madahana.

The lawyers, who accompanied the Church leaders at the press briefing, said whereas the proposed Constitution had several good and forward-looking issues; it also contained fatal clauses that were unacceptable to the nation.

'’It is like telling someone to vacate his or her mud walled house and shift to a brick walled house and live with dangerous small animals inside the house to be cleaned later, what if you are bitten?’’ posed Mr Waihigia.