Rights group loses first round of Hustler Fund board lawsuit

Wednesday, February 1st, 2023 08:30 | By
Petitioner Fred Ogola addresses journalists outside Milimani Law Courts after the mention of a case in which he is challenging the appointment of four people to the Hustler Fund Advisory Board.

The Employment and Labour Relations court has declined to stop the swearing-in of Hustler Fund Advisory Board gazetted by President William Ruto and Cooperatives and MSME Development Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui last week.

Justice Monica Mbaru declined to issue the temporary order in a case filed by Operation Linda Ugatuzi leader Fred Ogola and two others.

Ogola, lawyer Bernard Odero Okello and Kevin Macharia moved to court to challenge the appointment of the board, saying it was constituted without an open, fair and competitive process and in total disregard of the Constitution on advertisement and public participation.

President Ruto, in a gazette notice dated January 20, 2023, appointed Irene Karimi as the chairperson of the newly-established Financial Inclusion Fund, and three other people, namely: Lawrence Kibet Chelimo, Paul Ndore Musyimi, and Hardlyne Lusui to the fund’s advisory board.

According to the petitioners, the President and the Cooperative CS handpicked the board, hence denying other qualified people a chance to be appointed.

“The respondents violated the Constitution by conducting the process of appointment in a clandestine manner, catching everyone by surprise, by only announcing appointments without precedent,” they argued in court documents.

It is their case that the President and the CS discriminated against persons with disabilities by not appointing even one of them to the board.

Unmitigated suffering

“There is an imminent danger that the interested parties will assume office illegally, hence rendering this petition an academic exercise ... The rights of persons with disabilities to appointment will be violated if the interested parties assume office, hence suffering damage that cannot be compensated,” they argued.

They sought orders suspending the Gazette Notice announcing the appointment of the board for a period of three years and restraining the board from assuming office, taking oath of office or discharging the duties of members of the Financial Inclusion Fund Board.

It is their case that the gazette notice was, surprisingly, made with effect from 13th January 2023, which is a backdated day before the official publication in the Kenya Gazette notice, contrary to the law.

According to them, the board was appointed without advertising for the positions, while the appointments were made  in blatant disregard of public participation.

“Unless conservatory orders are issued, there is a real danger that the board, which has been appointed contrary to the Constitution, will assume office,” they argued.

Justice Mbaru directed the parties to take the hearing dates at the Registry after the respondents failed to appear in court.

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