Banknotes row: Omtatah, CBK take new currency battle to KICC

Friday, August 16th, 2019 00:00 | By
Justices Asenath Ongeri, Anthony Mrima and George Kimondo at the KICC, Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/CHARLES MATHAI

A three-judge Bench yesterday visited the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) to determine the controversy over the inclusion of founding President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta Statue in the new currency notes. 

Justices George Kimondo, Anthony Murima and Asenath Ongeri visited the site in the presence of activist Okiya Omtatah, who filed the suit challenging the new notes and lawyer Ochieng’ Oduol, who is representing the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) in the case. 

The court established that the distance between KICC tower and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta’s statue is approximately 80 metres.

“The distance between the tower and statue, however, does not matter as the features cannot be separated,” said Oduol. 

Omtatah, however, maintained that the statue is not part of KICC building.

No portrait 

“CBK is violating Article 231(4) of the Constitution by having a statue of Kenya’s founding President Jomo Kenyatta at the back of all the new notes,” he told the Bench. 

“The Constitution decrees that Kenyan currency banknotes shall not bear the portrait of any individual,” he added.

CBK, however, said the image use is acceptable and meets the threshold set in the Constitution.

“The notes do not bear the portrait of any individual or that of President Jomo Kenyatta as alleged,” said CBK through its director Kennedy Abuga in a replying affidavit.

According to the bank, before adapting the usage of KICC on the front of all new notes, it sought the advice of Attorney General and was advised that the image of KICC was not in contravention of Article 23(1)(4) of the Constitution.

“KICC is an important landmark, it is unique for its architectural design and was the first facility built in Kenya containing 24 storeys with a revolving restaurant, a helipad and a host of conference halls. It should, therefore, be preserved as depicting the very essence of Kenya and its national heritage,” said Abuga.

The court will deliver its judgment on September 27.

In his petition, Omtatah accuses CBK and its Governor Patrick Njoroge of contravening Article 231(4) of the Constitution by retaining the portrait of Kenya’s first President on the new generation currency notes.

Further, Omtatah is faulting the CBK for acting contrary to Section 34 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution by directing that all the old Sh1,000 notes be withdrawn by October 1.

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