Some 22 operators of betting machines have sued Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki over the destruction of their devices.
The businessmen, in a petition filed at the High Court in Nyeri, want the CS and security agencies stopped from arresting them, seizing and damaging the slot machines.
They also want a declaration that the ongoing crackdown is unlawful and unconstitutional.
Through lawyer Muhoho Gichimu, the traders also want a permanent injunction restraining security officers from interfering with the machines or their businesses.
They also want an order directing the Interior ministry to release the machines already seized.
Gitonga Mwangi, one of the businessmen, indicated in his affidavit that they started the business legally in 2016 after the government allowed importation of the machines.
“The government did allow the importation more particularly from China which were offered for sale to the petitioners who heavily invested in the machines and established businesses. We have been operating without a hitch,” said Mr Mwangi.
Lawyer Gichimu indicated that despite the entry of the machines into the market, the Attorney-General is yet to come up with a legal framework for regulation of slot machines.
As such, he said, there remains no known law prohibiting the operations of gaming slot machines.
Mr Gichimu added that the country’s prosecuting authorities have been unable to sustain charges levelled against various operators within the country for lack of a law prohibiting the use of the machines.
The businessmen said the government, through Administration Police officers, chiefs and sub-chiefs, has in the recent past engaged in the seizure of the devices.
“After seizure they unlawfully damaged, dismantled and burnt the machines without conducting due process in terms of administrative action as envisaged in the Constitution,” argued the businessmen in the petition.
They believe the actions of the security officers are illegal, unconstitutional and amount to infringement of economic rights.