The government is on the spot for ignoring court orders signalling a worrying trend in past one week.
However, it is not the first time state officials have disregarded orders issued by the court.
Last week, the government blatantly ignored an order directing the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) to restore live transmission for TV stations shut down on January 30.
As if that was not enough, security personnel barred activist Okiya Omtatah from serving the CA with the order yet, they were aware of the order. The government belatedly complied with the order one week later, although Citizen TV and Inooro remained off air as NTV and KTN News were switched on.
Further, the police led by the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet ignored an order directing him to release lawyer Miguna Miguna.
The High Court had ordered the politician to be released on a cash bail of Sh50,000. The IG even ignored orders to appear in court in person as directed by Justice Luka Kimaru.
Earlier this week, the Director General of CA Francis Wangusi was barred from entering his office despite obtaining a court order, lifting his suspension.
Mr Wangusi, through lawyer Prof Tom Ojienda obtained the order last week from the Employment and Labour Relations court. The embattled Wangusi on two occasions tried without success, to enter his office in Westlands.
The board sent Mr Wangusi on compulsory leave on January 12, in order to an audit on human resources at CA. Mr Wangusi argued that the decision was not only unprocedural but also unreasonable, malicious and illegal.
Further, more than 300 operators of gaming machines recently accused the government of ignoring a court order, over the confiscation of their machines.
Through lawyer Kibe Mungai, the operators told Justice John Mativo that they obtained an order in September 2016, stopping the government from harassing or arresting any of them. However, the lawyer said, the police continue to arrest his clients and arraigning them in court.
In December last year, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was accused by members of civil society organisations of ignoring a court order over the tenure of NGO Coordination Board Executive Director Fazul Mahamed.
On December 7, the Employment and Labour Relations Court stopped the government from renewing or extending Mr Mahamed’s contract. His contract ended on November 23 but Mr Mahamed is still in office.
More than 22,000 retired teachers had to wait for more than ten years to get their dues from the government despite a court order. The retired teachers even filed contempt proceedings against TSC bosses in a bid to get their pay.
The High Court had in October 23, 2008 ordered the TSC to process the pension based on the 1997 salary award. But it was not until November last year that the government finally cleared the way for the release of the Sh17 billion, 18 years after they first demanded it.
Several Permanent Secretaries including Karanja Kibicho, Saitoti Torome, and Monica Juma have all been cited for contempt, for ignoring court orders.
Lawyer Allen Gichuhi said a court order is not an opinion or a suggestion, but a court, which must be obeyed. “It is not an advice. It is not a request. It is an Order. I therefore call on the Attorney General to advice the State Agencies that they have to respect Orders issued by the Courts, failing which they will be held in contempt. Any state officer acting in flagrant disregard of a court order should be investigated for abuse of office,” he said.
The lawyer added that respect for a court order is a tenet of any democratic state and disobeying such lawful commands is a recipe for chaos and anarchy. “Respect for the Orders is a duty bestowed on each citizen and any state officials. Respecting the orders is therefore not a favour but a duty,” he said.