Nairobi assembly Speaker Elachi opposes contempt case

Ngwele sued Elachi and the assembly board for disobeying a court order

In Summary

• Ngwele said Elachi and the board suspended and sent him on a one-month compulsory leave.

• Elachi says the Attorney General, too, should have been served with the application.

Speaker Beatrice Elachi on October 9, 2019.
Speaker Beatrice Elachi on October 9, 2019.

Nairobi assembly Speaker Beatrice Elachi and the County Assembly Board have dismissed as defective an application for contempt of court filed by assembly Clerk Jacob Ngwele.

Ngwele had sued Elachi and the board for disobeying a court order by suspending and sending him on a one-month compulsory leave and thereafter appointing Monica Muthami as an acting clerk on October 30.

But Elachi, through lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui, argued in a preliminary objection that the application did not adhere to the law, having been filed as a notice of motion and not as an application notice.

Kinyanjui said the application was not personally served on Elachi as required by law, adding the Attorney General, too, should have been served. His objection was supported by the board through lawyer Cecil Miller, who told Justice Onesmus Makau that an application of contempt must set out specific grounds and have them listed numerically.

“Contempt of court proceedings are quasi-criminal in nature since the liberty of a person is at stake.  Standard of proof is higher than a civil case,” Miller told the court.

He said the breach must be precisely defined and supposed guilt proved with strictness. Miller told the court that even after it ordered Ngwele back to office on Monday this week, he had been making technical appearances.

"How can the applicant argue there is contempt and that he has been locked out of office, yet he has absconded duty?" he said.

Assembly workers accused Ngwele of frustrating their payments by refusing to perform his duties. They also accused him of carrying a firearm to court and cash for unknown purposes.

Justice Makau, however, directed Ngwele to report back to work immediately and perform his functions. On Monday, the court directed police officers in charge of Parliament Police Station and the security of the Government Building Unit to ensure Ngwele has unhindered access to his office. 

It also directed that the police officers offer protection to the clerk while within the Assembly precincts, pending an inter-parties hearing of the application. Interested parties in the case are the ODM, Jubilee Party, ousted Majority leader Abdi Guyo, Maurice Gari and Mark Ndung’u.