NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 23 – The Employment and Labour Relations Court has ordered Defence Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo to pay over Sh15 million to a former Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) officer who was sacked because of his religious faith.
According to the court, the sacking of Polycarp Niyogo Nyakora in 2012 was unlawful and violated his rights to worship.
In his ruling, Justice Nduma Nderi said that employers must try to accommodate the religious needs of its employees and adjust the requirements for them to worship freely.
In giving the award, the judge said that religious and observance of a day of worship even for the people in the KDF or National Police Service cannot be limited.
“The court has found that the petitioner’s right to free worship was violated and malicious prosecution and false imprisonment that was meted on him is unconstitutional” the judge said.
Justice Nderi observed that KDF personnel worship in different denominations, including Catholics and Protestants and Muslims, saying that other faiths are not so particular about the day of worship unlike SDA.
The petitioner through the law firm of Omwanza Advocates filed the claim in court on June 7, 2013 after he was sacked from the force where he served for 10 years.
The lawyer told the court that the petitioner was not allowed to worship on Saturday by his superiors at the Technical transport Wing, saying that he could not understand why the same was refused after that long period.
Omwanza said that KDF is an organ of the government that is bound by the constitution which it is under duty to respect, uphold and defend.
He urged the court to make a declaration that the imprisonment for 42 days and deduction of the petitioner’s salary for six days was unlawful.
The judge ordered that the petitioner be paid the amount, that includes exemplary damages of Sh3 million, general damages for lost earnings for 12 months be computed and filed in court within 30 days.
He further directed that the petitioner be treated as an ordinary retiree and be paid lump sum and monthly pension as per the KDF Act.