It looks like the vilified global courts are not too bad after all

Tuesday February 16 2016

A man is restrained by security officers after heckling the president during the June 1, 2009 Madaraka Day celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium. PHOTO | JENNIFER MUIRURI

A man is restrained by security officers after heckling the president during the June 1, 2009 Madaraka Day celebrations at the Nyayo National Stadium. PHOTO | JENNIFER MUIRURI NATION MEDIA GROUP

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I had a spot of bother with the law the other day. It was a dispute that could have been resolved at the community level, but arrogant me was too big for small local tribunals of doubtful integrity, so I insisted on going all the way up to courtrooms befitting my exalted status.

I mobilised my clansmen and assembled a large number of hired hecklers to make loud noises in favour of real courts far away, and far removed from the backward village dispute resolution mechanism.

It happened that the chap on the other side of the conflict, who was also being indicted over the fracas, too favoured to be tried in a foreign jurisdiction as he also did not trust local courts, and also had the wherewithal to hire the best international lawyers available.

So we teamed up, and foes became allies in the campaign for trial before the foreign courts.

But then things started going awry. We’d assumed that the distant court was too busy to pay close attention to our alleged crimes.

But it moved faster than expected. Before we knew it, indictments had been issued and we found ourselves in strange territory facing the humiliation of answering to criminal charges before judges we could not buy or bully.


So there had to be a change of tack. With our new partnership, we were able to unite our respective supporters behind a common cause.

We went beyond our villages and recruited like-minded chieftains from across the ridges to make loud noises against the courts that we now accused of being foreign, racist, neo-colonial impositions that were trampling on our sovereignty.

We went before international forums to fight against the jurisdiction of the courts, and to demand immunity from prosecution.

Our brethren in the regional ruling classes, all accustomed to brutalising their own people in violent rule by the gun, or machete, gladly supported the demands for immunity.

They knew they were buying themselves insurance in case also called to account for crimes against their own subjects.

The basic threat was that the entire confederacy of ethnic chieftains would withdraw recognition of the international courts unless their brethren facing serious criminal charges were discharged before conclusion of their cases.

The funny thing is that our gullible supporters did not see through the hypocrisy.

Few bothered to ask why we had so noisily supported the international justice mechanism, and then trumpeted sovereignty and the race card once in the dock.

Fewer, still, wondered why we would so loudly proclaim pride in our clan and village, but then could not trust our own to defend us in court; turning to those same foreigners we claimed were the bane of our problems.

Anyway, even as we made a lot of noise and incited our foolish supporters to shout even louder against the courts, we were not so foolish as to make good on walkout threats.


We dutifully participated in the proceedings through our high-priced legal battalions, that thankfully we now paid from the public purse.

We also put in personal attendance when required, and used those occasions to send busloads of paid hecklers to extend defiant noises to the foreign capitals, and also enjoy the delights of cities where sin knows no bounds.

Things looked up for us last week when the appeal court overturned a trial court decision to hear recanted testimony.

That left the prosecution with little to stand on after scores of witnesses magically caught bouts of amnesia at the same time. Or simply disappeared.

It looks like these international courts are not too bad after all. That ruling last Friday must stand as an indication that the prosecution we condemned all along is now on the point of collapse.

I’m looking forward to sweet freedom, but if the courts in coming sessions fail to pay heed, it will face the wrath of my people.


So Ms Anne Waiguru is actually throwing her hat into the political ring?

I never imagined for a moment that running for Governor of Nairobi is the ‘light duty’ she asked for on vacating the Cabinet under pressure.

Nairobi politics cannot be light duty. She will have to mix it up with the thugs and hoodlums who control City Hall.