Anonymous banners on city roads put Judiciary in the dock

Wednesday, January 29th, 2020 00:00 | By
One of the banners criticising the Judiciary that was on display in Nairobi yesterday. Photo/PD/Tabitha Mbatia

Bernard Gitau @benagitau

Nairobi residents yesterday woke up to banners on footbridges that were critical of the Judiciary. 

The banners, with messages such as  “We demand a working Judiciary free of corrupt judges now,” were hung from footbridges on Mombasa, Jogoo and Thika roads.

It is not yet clear who was behind the  campaign.

The banners also accused the Judiciary of treating the rich and powerful with kid gloves while punishing the poor, some for minor cases.

“Why are the majority of inmates in Kenya the poor people?” one banner asked, while another wondered whether governors Mike Sonko (Nairobi), Ferdinand Waititu (Kiambu) and former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero, who are facing corruption cases, will ever be jailed.

Akashas case

Another banner highlighted the Akasha brothers—Baktash and Ibrahim—drug trafficking conviction in United States.

President Uhuru Kenyatta recently held up the Akashas case as evidence of failure by the Judiciary.

Kenyans on Twitter agreed with authors of the messages that the justice system favours the rich and condemns the poor. 

The banners appeared a day after Embakasi East MP Babu Owino was released on a Sh10 million cash bail in a case in which he is accused of shooting Felix Orinda, popularly known as DJ Evolve.

On Twitter, Danson Machuki questioned why Joseph Irungu, alias Jowie, who, alongside TV journalist Jacque Maribe, has been charged with the murder of businesswoman Monica Kimani, was denied bail.

“Jowie was denied bail while Babu Owino who was seen shooting is granted bail. Corrupt Judiciary.

And all that Maraga is asking for is more money and better cars… our souls were sold long time ago,” Machuki wrote.

But former Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow termed the attack on the Judiciary as “Executive activism”.

“This ‘Executive’ activism is intended to undermine independence of Judiciary. Convictions come from effective prosecution, not judges. Please respect the Judiciary,” he tweeted.

According to the Kenya Law Reform Commission (KLRC), many Kenyans end up in jail because they cannot access legal aid.

KLRC says less than 30 per cent of Kenyans access legal aid services contrary to the acceptable standard of 80 per cent.

Mary Waiguru, a commissioner at KLRC says the situation means the poor and vulnerable mostly end up in prison for failing to mount a strong defence in court.

“We have been treated to cases of chicken thieves and other small offenders being jailed within days due to lack of legal aid but high profile cases offenders going scot free as they can afford a contingent of lawyers and paralegals,” she said.

The Law Society of Kenya has also expressed concern over the low number of advocates taking Public Interest litigation.

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