10 Court Cases That Captured Kenyans’ Attention in 2018

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10 Court Cases That Captured Kenyans' Attention in 2018

Litigation through court proceedings is supposed to enforce or defend legal rights of complainant. But it is a process that can turn dramatic at the most unlikely moment.

Here is a compilation of the drama that unfolded in the corridors of justice in 2018.

1. Miguna Miguna

The biggest court drama of 2018 is undeniably the legal tussle between Canada-based lawyer Miguna Miguna and the government.

The firebrand activist and politician locked horns with the authorities after he crafted and administered an oath on NASA leader Raila Odinga as “the People’s President”.

When NASA leader retreated on his stance in the disputed 2017 Presidential Elections, Miguna chose a different path declaring himself the General of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

For a man his close allies has described as “stubborn”, the government agencies opted for the most cruel and unorthodox ways to get rid of the “trouble-maker” – deportation.

Miguna was ambushed and allegedly brutalized by a contingent of police officers before being incarcerated in unknown locations.

As his lawyers sought court orders to compel the Interior Ministry and the police to produce him “alive or dead”, reports emerged that Miguna was at JKIA in a failed attempt to banish him out of the country.

A second attempt that was suspected to have involved sedation saw Miguna deported over claims that he renounced his Kenyan citizenship after acquiring Canadian citizenship.

Miguna Miguna being whisked by policemen in plain clothes at JKIA

After protracted legal battles over the attack and the destruction of his property and passport, Miguna was granted a Kshs7.1 million compensation to be footed by Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and immediate former Immigration Director General George Kihalangwa.

2. Governor Okoth Obado’s prosecution

The case involving the murder of Rongo University student Sharon Otieno became a subject of public interest with reports putting Migori Governor Zachary Okoth Obado as a chief suspect.

This is after it emerged that the governor was in a romantic relationship with the deceased and was behind Sharon’s 7-months pregnancy.

Detectives finally went for Obado following the adverse mentioning of his close aides and the county employees as likely perpetrators and accomplices in the gruesome murder.

Migori Governor Okoth Obado disembarks from a prison bus at Milimani Law Courts ahead of his bail hearing

Following several weeks of detention, Obado finally managed to secure freedom after being granted bail by the courts.

His freedom was, however, short-lived after a police raid on a corruption-related case led to the discovery of 8 guns at his homes.

3. DCJ Philomena Mbete Mwilu

The arrest of Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Philomena Mbete Mwilu on August 28 ushered a new chapter in the legal corridors.

Other than being the second-highest ranking judge in the country, her arrest presented a legal puzzle as her prosecution would require her to face her juniors in the judicial ranks.

Although largely applauded as a milestone in the renewed war against crime under the leadership of Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Noordin Haji and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) boss George Kinoti, a section of Mwilu’s supporters alleged witch hunt.

In particular, some players opined that the move bore the signature of President Uhuru’s threat to revisit the judiciary.

Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Philomena Mbete Mwilu in court

The magnitude of the case saw DPP Haji seek the services of Queen’s Counsel Khawar Qureshi, as the lead prosecutor in Mwilu’s case, a move that has been vehemently opposed by her lawyers.

4. Machakos Gubernatorial Election Petition

One of the top 2017 General Election cases is that pitching Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua against seasoned politician Wavinya Ndeti.

Wavinya successfully petitioned Mutua’s election citing malpractices in the electoral process which led to a nullification in June.

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua

However, Governor Mutua filed an appeal seeking to revert the ruling before the Supreme Court which he won.

5. Kirinyaga Gubernatorial Election Petition

Former Gichugu MP Martha Wangari Karua has engaged in a protracted court battle challenging the victory of incumbent Kirinyaga Governor Anne Mumbi Waiguru.

Despite losing several applications in the case, Karua has remained adamant in her push for justice.

At one point, High Court Judge Lucy Gitari dismissed the election petition challenging the Kirinyaga gubernatorial results terming it as “incurable, defective and hopeless”.

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Mumbi Waiguru celebrating with his supporters outside the courtroom

Karua, nevertheless, is set to appeal to the Supreme Court suspecting foul play in the ruling.

6. Nandi Hills Parliamentary Election Petition

In March, the court nullified the election of firebrand politician and Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter following a long court battle by the petitioner, Bernard Kitur.

Kitur cited among other things, violence during the election, intimidation of voters and agents during campaigns and on the election day.

He also claimed that the Nandi Hills legislator had bribed voters.

The nullification, however, saw Keter launch a scathing attack against powerful individuals in government whom he accused of trying to ruin his political career.

Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter following proceedings inside the courtroom

Keter, however, survived the ouster after successfully appealing the previous ruling.

7. Jacque Maribe, Jowie Irungu and Monicah Kimani’s Murder

In September, the nation was puzzled by the murder of businesswoman Monica Nyawira Kimani whose lifeless body was discovered by her brother with her throat slit open at her apartment.

As the investigations unfolded, media personality Jacque Maribe Mwangi became a person of interest.

This is after her fiancé Joseph ‘Jowie’ Irungu turned as the main suspect in the gruesome murder.

It is a case that would grip the attention of the country for nearly a month with emotional scenes being witnessed at the courtroom.

The Citizen TV journalist later managed to secure her release on bail although her co-accused, Jowie, is still in police custody.

8. The NYS 2 Scandal

The National Youth Service (NYS) has been at the centre of multi-billion scandals that have left the country startled.

However, the onslaught by the DCI director George Kinoti and DPP Noordin Haji saw heads at the institution rolling.

The public attention was particularly drawn to the case after the arrest of Public Service Principal Secretary Lillian Mbogo-Omollo and National Youth Service (NYS) boss Richard Ndubai among other senior officials.

The PS was incarcerated for weeks at Langata Women’s Prison before she was finally released on bail pending the hearing of the case.

Another interesting development in the NYS case was the alleged involvement of the Ngirita family.

Anne Wanjiku Wambere Ngirita’s face became nearly synonymous with the NYS saga after reportedly bagging millions from the NYS for “supplying air”.

9. Okiya Omtatah’s Court Battles

The renowned activist Okiya Omtatah’s battles at the corridors of courts have undisputedly made him the face of public-interest litigation.

In his numerous applications, Omtatah challenged, among other things, the imposition of new levy on petroleum products under the Finance Act, 2018.

In September, his efforts saw Kenyans online start a campaign to fundraise for him.

Early in December, the activist was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award from the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders Kenya.

10. Death Sentence for Miss Langata Prison

To close the list of the memorable court cases in 2018 is the murder case against former Miss Langata Prison, Ruth Kamande.

The beauty queen had been arraigned in court in connection with the murder of her boyfriend whom she reportedly stabbed 22 times in 2015.

Former Miss Langata, Ruth Wanjiku Kamande, at Milimani Law Court on July 19,2018

Justice Jessie Lesiit’s court found her guilty of the offence and handed her the maximum punishment for her crime – a death penalty.