QUASH THE GAZETTE NOTICE

Omtatah sues to stop import of maize he says is substandard

In Summary

• He states that the East African Community Standard is recognized and endorsed by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

• The activist argues that the unlawful importation of the maize violates the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, including the rights to life (Article 26); human dignity (Article 28); a clean and healthy environment (Article 42).

Activist Okiya Omtatah. /FILE
Activist Okiya Omtatah. /FILE

Activist Okiya Omtatah has moved to court to challenge the government's decision to gazette and authorise the importation of maize which does not meet the East African Community Standard.

In his application filed on Friday under urgency on behalf of the Strategic Rood Reserve Trust Fund, Omtatah claims the importation will endanger the lives of members of the public who consume maize products either directly or indirectly.

He says that the importation of the maize had been objected by the Fund  and was aggrieved that, vide Gazette Notice  of April 17,2020, which was published on April 20, 2020, Treasury CS Ukur Yatani authorised the importation of substandard dry maize at a concessional import duty rate of 14 per cent for white maize and 10 per cent  for yellow maize.

 He further states that whereas the Gazette notice allows the importation of maize whose aflatoxin levels don’t exceed 10ppm (parts per million) the East African Community Standard  sets a maximum limit of 10 ppb (parts per billion) as safe for human and animal consumption.

“The aflatoxin levels allowed in the Gazette notice are one thousand (1,000) times higher than the levels allowed in law.  Whereas the Gazette notice is silent on the allowed fumonisin2 levels, the East African Community Standard limits the fumonisin levels at 2 ppm (parts per million),” Omtatah argues in court papers.

He states that the East African Community Standard is recognized and endorsed by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

The activist argues that the unlawful importation of the maize violates the Bill of Rights in the Constitution, including the rights to life (Article 26); human dignity (Article 28); a clean and healthy environment (Article 42).

Omtatah says that the fund reasonably suspects that the lowering of standards contrary to the law to allow for the importation of substandard maize is deliberate and tailor-made to serve vested interests.

He says that unless the stay is granted, substandard maize will be imported and the lives of millions of Kenyans will be put in danger, and the Constitution and the law will continue to be violated and threatened as stated.

 He adds there is no authorisation by the Strategic Food Reserve Fund for third parties to be allowed to import relief maize as the Strategic Food Reserve Fund should be the one importing the relief maize.

“Failure to suspend the impugned Gazette notice will be prejudicial to the instant application, and will render it nugatory if successful to the extent that once the substandard and poisonous maize is imported it will be impossible to reverse the eventuality within these proceedings, or even at all,” he says.

He also wants leave to be granted to the Strategic Food Reserve Fund Applicant to seek by way of Judicial Review, that an order of mandamus do issue, to compel Yatani  to issue a new Gazette notice on the importation of maize, where the standards of the maize to be imported will strictly adhere to the East African Community Standard on maize.