Report: State owes litigants Sh1.2 trillion
Mercy Mwai @wangumarci
The government owes various litigants up to Sh1.2 trillion in court awards, a report shows.
Report of the Budget and Appropriations Committee (BAC) chaired by Kieni MP Kanini Kega says the suits are domiciled in the office of the Attorney-General.
The report also shows that the awards against the payments stand at approximately Sh160 million, ranging from awards to victims of torture as well as business litigants against the State.
“For the office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice, the committee observed that there are suits against the government with financial risks to the tune of Sh1.2 trillion,” reads the report.
The current figure has shot up from the Sh809 billion which the government owed litigants as of September last year.
Solicitor-General Ken Ogeto lamented at the time that the office, headed by Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki, faced a serious cash crunch which had resulted in the inability to pay claimants, among them former political detainees, awards close to Sh1 billion.
Ogeto told MPs that the office of the Attorney General and the Department of Administrative Justice had, at the end of May 2019, analysed ongoing cases and arbitrations with quantifiable claims as having a potential liability exposure to the government of Sh809,938,412,173.
“We have to admit that some of these cases would have been successfully defended and bills minimised if we had facilitation.
He said financial constraints had hampered its ability to discharge its mandate as the government’s chief legal advisor.
Among persons owed money is the family of multi-party hero Kenneth Matiba whose unpaid compensation awarded by a court had risen to more than Sh1 billion.
Matiba, who died in 2018, was awarded Sh945 million for his detention in the early 1990s.
The amount has been accruing monthly penalties for delayed payment even as the government fights off additional claim of Sh135 million from the lawyers of the former opposition leader for legal fees related to the suit.
Also owed money by the State is Matiba’s colleague in the struggle for the second liberation Charles Rubia who was awarded Sh26 million for his detention by President Daniel arap Moi’s regime.
Rubia, who died aged 95 in December last year, was seeking Sh40 billion compensation from the government for the suffering he underwent and business losses.
But Justice Weldon Korir awarded him Sh26 million, saying the amount he had sought was not backed by any local decision or decree.