Lawyers fault CJ’s approach to threats

February 22, 2013 1:31 pm
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The Nairobi Young Lawyers Association welcomed the investigation that was launched into the issue, after the CJ alleged that an immigration officer had attempted to block him from travelling to Dar-es-Salaam saying he hadn't been cleared for travel by Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia/FILE
The Nairobi Young Lawyers Association welcomed the investigation that was launched into the issue, after the CJ alleged that an immigration officer had attempted to block him from travelling to Dar-es-Salaam saying he hadn’t been cleared for travel by Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 22 – A group of Nairobi lawyers has condemned the alleged harassment of Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and lauded government action on the threats.

The Nairobi Young Lawyers Association welcomed the investigation that was launched into the issue, after the CJ alleged that an immigration officer had attempted to block him from travelling to Dar-es-Salaam saying he hadn’t been cleared for travel by Head of Public Service Francis Kimemia.

“We condemn the alleged harassment of the Chief Justice at the airport and demand that the government as promised do a thorough investigation on the said harassment and take action on anyone found to have harassed Mutunga,” he said.

A member of the association Wilson Kamande stressed the need for all State officers to exercise restraint in their behaviour to avoid conduct that can cause anxiety to the public.

“We also want to state that the CJ should have followed the right protocol in addressing his concerns as this could cause untold tension in the country,” he said.

He further pointed out that the name of the Head of Civil Service Francis Kimemia should not have been dragged out in public as the immigrations officer was not under his direct command.

“The said immigration officer directly reports to the Ministry of Immigration and not to the Head of the Civil Service and therefore the Minister for Immigration and/or the Permanent Secretary should be answerable for the actions of those under him and not the Head of Civil Service,” he explained.

He expressed concern that such careless speech is a danger to the country and would cause unnecessary political tension.

He said that all public and State officers should not engage in conduct that would heighten political tension and anxiety given that the General Election is less than ten days away.

Government Spokesman Muthui Kariuki had on Thursday announced the interdiction of the immigration officer who attempted to stop Mutunga from leaving the country.

However, this position was contradicted on Friday by Immigration Minister Otieno Kajwang who said the officer could not take the fall over instructions that had come from the civil service boss.

Kariuki had said it was regrettable that the CJ was subjected to such treatment “yet a circular issued by Kimemia on November 9, 2012 did not include him among the officials required to seek Kimemia’s clearance.”

Kariuki claimed that the official was not acting at Kimemia’s behest and should therefore be probed.

Even though Kariuki maintained that the CJ was not included in the circular, when Mutunga returned to Nairobi from Tanzania he found a letter ‘clearing’ him to travel.

When he exposed the saga on Wednesday, the CJ said: “The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary received a purported ‘clearance to travel’ letter by Mr Kimemia dated February 14, stating it has been noted the Chief Justice is travelling to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.”

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