The Kenya Forum team couldn’t help noticing a couple of small points revealed in the Daily Nation’s write-up of Judge Nicholas Ombijah yesterday (‘Judge who opened Sudan can of worms’). Trivial perhaps but interesting nonetheless.
‘High Court Judge Nicholas Ombija is not the kind of person whose rights you can infringe upon and hope to get away with it’, the Nation declared, describing him as a ‘no-nonsense judge’ who is ‘not new to landmark, controversial rulings and judgements’.
Too right he’s not.
In 2008 Nicholas Ombija sued the Kenya Commercial Bank for the “considerable amount of stress, agony, mental torture, humiliation, scandal, opprobrium and contempt in the eyes of the public,” that he had suffered. His family had been ‘almost tore part’.
What was the cause of such distress? Well one day when the good judge went shopping at Nakumatt and the Hotel Intercontinental his Visa card was rejected although, he claimed, he had Sh1 million in his account.
Not bad having Sh1 million but better still to add to it the Sh2.5 million the High Court awarded him in damages… (KCB are appealing).
Later that year the same Judge Ombija sued Wycliffe Oparanya, Kenya’s Planning Minister (but he hadn’t planned on this) after he was sold a Sh13.5 million house in Kitisuru by the Minister. Ombija argued that Oparanya had ‘vandalised’ the house after selling it to him, ripping out chandeliers and top quality toilet seat covers. The matter was settled out of court. (The Kenya Forum is not surprised it did didn’t go to court: Ombija had nothing to go on..!)
The Nation is quite right: Judge Ombija is no stranger to controversial rulings.
Since posting our article on the High Court ruling ordering the arrest of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetang’ula has been reported as saying he will disregard the ruling and invite al-Bashir to a conference in Nairobi. The Minister said he was, concerned by “the blatant display of insensitivity”.
The Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence and Foreign Relations, Mr Adnan Keynan, also waded into the matter by suggesting the ruling by Judge Omibija would undermine the country’s foreign policy.
“Whereas I recognize the inherent independence of the Judiciary, I am of the opinion that the court ruling was irresponsible and unpatriotic especially at a time when the government is consolidating support from African countries in the fight against militancy”, he said. “The ruling goes against national interests and it is a slap in the face of our foreign policy”.
The Kenya Forum’s response to Mr Adnan Keynan is yes, the ruling may not be very convenient to the government but at the moment (until and unless it is overturned in the courts) it’s the law. Likewise a message to Moses Wetang’ula… it’s the law, you can’t just ‘disregard’ it.