County askaris are associated with brutality, especially when dealing with hawkers.
The county Inspectorate has on many occasions been accused of using excessive force.
However, this might end if three Mombasa residents succeed in persuading the court in Mombasa to abolish the department.
Patrick Kabundu, Caleb Mwiti and Chichi Kimani want the court to rescind the law that created the county Inspectorate department in every county. In their petition against the Mombasa county government, they said the law is unconstitutional and against the County Government Act 2012 and National Police Service Act 2011.
Governor Hassan Joho, the County Public Service Board and clerk of the county assembly have also been listed as respondents in the suit.
The petitioners said through the law, county governments have created an enforcement agency similar and parallel to the National Police Service, with powers to arrest and detain persons.
“The unconstitutional bill has caused injustice to the citizens as it has enabled county askaris to prosecute people with an aim to extort money, harass innocent residents and raise illegal revenue,” they said in their petition
They said the county askaris use “illegally obtained powers to target small-scale traders trying to make a living; particularly the youth, women and other vulnerable groups”.
The petitioners said in Mombasa, the county has collected and received revenue illegally from prosecutions conducted by municipal courts without remitting the cash to the consolidated funds.
They said the Inspectorate has been used by top leadership to instill fear in people who oppose county government plans and trespass on private property. The three said the askaris use the criminal justice system as a pawn in personal feuds and the court and the Director of Public Prosecutions should intervene. The petitioners said the law was made without public participation.
The petitioners want a declaration that the County Inspectorate Bill 2016 be quashed or nullified and the court to further declare the appointment of County Inspectorate director Mohammed Amir null and void.
The petitioners are also seeking a declaration that county Inspectorates have no powers to investigate, arrest and institute criminal proceedings against anyone because these functions are out of their jurisdiction. Mombasa resident judge Eric Ogolla certified the matter urgent and placed it in for inter partes hearing on July 24.