Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Immigration chief Gordon Kihalang’wa and Police boss Joseph Boinnet could be sent to jail on Thursday for disobeying a court order to release fiery lawyer Miguna Miguna.
High Court Judge George Odunga on Wednesday found the trio in contempt of court, convicted them and ordered that they appear in court in person tomorrow for sentencing.
Should they fail to present themselves in court, he will still proceed with the sentencing, he warned.
“State officers cannot continue to act in contempt, going on with their own businesses while cat-walking on courts’ orders.
"The three are hereby convicted accordingly and should appear before this court tomorrow at 10am,” Justice Odunga ruled.
RULE OF LAW
He said the focus of the case had moved away from Dr Miguna to the dignity of the court which, he added, has now been put to question.
While pointing a finger at the executive for contempt, Justice Odunga said obedience of court orders is a value of good governance within all State organs and that the directives are not subject to interpretation by any arm of government.
He accused key members of the Executive of failing to understand the Constitution and the courts, and continuing with old habits of impunity.
“It is my considered view that those who disobey should face the consequences and courts are empowered to uphold the rule of law,” Justice Odunga said, pointing out that it was not the first instance Dr Matiang’i has been penalised for disobeying the court and that it is time those who violate the Constitution are held to account.
The judge ordered that Dr Miguna be released unconditionally from detention at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), where he is being held since he arrived from Canada on Monday, so he can also appear in court tomorrow.
He further ordered that the opposition activist, who was deported to Canada on February 9 for his role in the January 30 ‘swearing-in’ of Orange Democratic Movement leader Raila Odinga, should not be removed from the court’s jurisdiction.
The judge had earlier in the day summoned Dr Matiang’i, Immigration Principal Secretary Kihalang’wa and Inspector-General of Police Mr Boinnet to appear in court in the afternoon.
They, however, did not show up but were represented by two junior State lawyers who claimed the trio were unreachable as they were attending a General Service Unit (GSU) graduation.
The response prompted lawyers representing the National Super Alliance activist to ask the court to convict the three.
The lawyers, led by Siaya Senator James Orengo, asked the court to fine them Sh200,000 each and that the monies be paid from their own pockets and not public funds so they could individually feel the pain of abusing office.
The lawyers also wanted the Attorney-General and the Chief Immigration Officer at the airport punished.
State lawyer Charles Mutinda had earlier in the day argued that orders granted by Justice Roselyn Aburili on Tuesday for Miguna’s release were given “without full disclosure of facts”, since Dr Miguna was being held only because his travel papers had not been processed.