Open Letter to Otiende Amollo,PHD
By Dak Buoth
14TH November, 2015: 3:20pm: EAT
Counsel, I greet you once again. I hope you’re doing fine. I was among the participants who thronged your public lecture on Friday 13/11/15 at Kisii University Main Campus. Thank you very much Jakom for that informative and elaborate lecture particularly on the role of the Commission on Administrative Justice in Eliminating Impunity in Kenya and beyond (Ombudsman).
It was nice meeting you, I have always wished to meet you in person, and luckily we did meet. I was first attracted to your professional works by your constant dressing-style. When you put on that collarless T-shirt and a Jacket on top without a neck-tie, it makes you look very smart and gentle, and I admired it for real, please keep it up. That style of dressing is identical to that of Moa Zedong, first Secretary of Communist party of China and Right Honorable Kume Nkrumah. I presumed you must have been a staunchest stalwart of socialism or a Garveyianist; I have attached and associate you to Marcus Garvey School of thoughts.
I believe readers will agree that sometimes one’s dressing style does portray the ideals he cherish and or his beliefs system. But some also dressed merely to show-off and to cover their bodies without any logic behind, the rest dress to showcase their materials wealth and so forth.
Previously, I used to dress up in same style. I adopted it from reggae guru, late Mighty Culture alias Joseph Hill. I have just halt dressing that way because the people I live and interacted with seemed to misunderstand me as arrogance or impolite. They believed it’s not fashionable which I don’t subscribe to at all, that its dressing-style for the old folks. Sympathetically when you’re with such a newly oriented people, who are not well acquainted with profound philosophies that drive the world around, it’s advisable you slow down just to make them feel easy.
In Kenya and my country South Sudan for example, vast majority prefer wearing suits and neck-ties nearly every days even when they’re going to do farming or when they’re on beds. The belief is that when one dress on suit and neck-tie, he is likely to be considered very educated, civilized, humble, polite and focus or even rich in term of material wealth. Somehow, they think perhaps they can get girls to marry for free.
I tell you, its’ tragedy for Africa. That communist dressing style is unique, old school, and very original.
Anyway, I’m sorry for trying to veer-off from the main topic, your dressing-style isn’t the subject matter in this case, but I just feel it is important to put it across because its’ one essential element that led me to attend your public lecture on Friday 13TH November 2015.
Let’s resume our conversation on the event, the fact that many Students came in their numbers to graced that rare occasion indicate two fundamental aspects in my view, one being that you’re probably one of the few Kenyans whose contributions in the Administrative Justice and implementation of the new constitution is highly respected and hold at pedestal. Secondly, it also tells that dozen Kenyans still have ravenous appetite to know the roles of the Ombudsman as Constitutional body entrusted with the responsibilities to offer advisory opinions and protect public interests.
As matter of fact, you made an excellent presentation mainly on the new constitution implementation process, and the roles expected of individual citizenry in the quest bring the new dispensation to fruition.
Largely, you underscored and pressed upon the animal call impunity, to quote your words, you said ‘‘it’s refers to the exemption from punishment or failure to bring the perpetrators to account for their actions, and that it’s often the primary obstacle to upholding the rule of law, and that impunity manifests itself in different ways such as corruption, maladministration and violations of civil liberties. That rule of law posits that matters of governance have to be based on established laws and principles rather than personal whims of the rulers’’
On the other hand, you applauded the current Kenya constitution as one of the best document the world over. Besides you stressed that Kenya too is ranked as one of the countries that practice impunity joyfully. You and others participants cited various cases justifying the same, further, you elaborated ways in which impunity can be reduced if not eradicated completely. You mentioned that one way to uproot impunity it is for citizens to stop giving bribes and or not accept the same in any case; instead you advised them to always report such cases pertaining corruption et cetera et cetera.
However, from my experience as an Alien who has lived in this country for quite number of years, I know bribery and corruption is indeed a serious vice and eliminating it will require concerted efforts and strong political will at all levels of society. If one is ask by police for kitu kidogo either for an offense he committed or not, if he did attempt to hesitate, people around view you as bad man who is digging his own grave. The police will harass and belittle you and eventuality takes you to police station after many hours
On arrival at police station, he will accused you for various counts in your charge-sheet, and the day you appear in court for mention or hearing, you will just be shock when those charges are read to you. From there on, you will just be crying helplessly especially when you don’t have ability to hire a legal counsel to argue you case out.
I really want this new constitution to be implemented to the letter and spirit, there is no other alternative subjecting ourselves to the law. My joy for that new constitution has not yet faded. I was among those who went to Uhuru Park during its promulgation on August 2010. I woke up with comrade Chak Gatnyang Riek and Eric Moogi Oirere in the wee hours to celebrate the unwavering struggle of the Kenyan men and women who struggle for it. We went bare footing from our home in Kileleshwa and reached the venue exactly at 5:00am in the morning until the event closes. We felt it was milestone and achievement not only for Kenya but for Africa as all.
If you notice keenly, throughout your entire speech in the hall, audiences were constantly jotting down every single word you uttered. I was among those who were doing the same. That positive gesture illustrated that no individual wanted to takes any statement you said for granted.
At the teal end of your conversation, you advised people to visit the commission’s websites for further learning and urges them to continue sending their complaints to the Ombudsman in case one find his or her rights violated by any public officer or an institution.
Its’ good advice but remember counsel, not every citizen that have access to internet or smart phone to Google and find what is in the commission’s websites. I lived in their midst, therefore I know the economic challenges facing them. Majority especially those whose rights continue to be violated and are not getting any justice are either uneducated or unable to access internet, hence, I suggest such public lecture should just be continued at all levels of society to sensitize them.
It is good you started with university students; they can now go and disseminated the same to their respective communities. It can be taken to women groups until it reach the grass root levels. By so doing, it will gradually serve as preventive measures to curb or cure the menace that has riddle the Kenyan society.
In view of the foregoing, you shouldn’t give such insightful lectures only when you’re invited, its suppose to be the core mandate of the Ombudsman to initiate, conduct and invites community members for such events. However, I recall you mentioned one major challenge facing you in performing your duties that lack of funding is hampering the delivery of justice to the people. That excuse is obvious from any public officer. One would hardly find a government employee admitting that they have sufficient finances to carry out their works, even the President Kenyatta himself do come public and announce that he couldn’t execute certain tasks because of financial constraint. So please do your part, let your commission continue carrying the torch even with the limited resources you may have.
Besides, when time for audience come to put their questions, compliments and reactions forwards, you saw several hands were rise up. Students, lecturers asked you many questions; in fact some were asking more than one question at the same time until the master of ceremony stood up and advised that each should ask one question at a time.
Numerous questions concerning the devolved system of government were asked and whether the President Kenyatta is above the law among others pertinent concerns. The answers you gave in respond to their questions were somehow convincing according to me.
Nonetheless, I was among those who did not get a chance to ask their questions because time wasn’t on our side, and it is what informed by decision to write this open letter to you and have my question aired.
I had two questions for you counsel, one is relating to chapter three of the Kenya constitution on citizenship; article (13) subsection (1) which talks about retention and acquisition of citizenship and by extension article (15) of the same chapter which provide for citizenship by registration.
Over times, since I came to Kenya years ago, I learned that some communities have been denied citizenship, particularly the Nubians in Kibera. Recently a relative story was televised in Citizen TV that another community known as Makonde people who live in coast province has also been denied citizenship by Kenya government.
Nubian are said to have entered Kenya from Sudan back in 1920s over three and half decades before Kenya attain its self-rule from colonial government. They were said to have come to serve for then colonial British administration as Kenya-Uganda railways constructors and others came as soldiers. Makonde people are said to have come from Mozambique in southern Africa right before Kenya got its independent in 1963.
Counsel, I fail to comprehend the motive behind this restriction, why are those communities continued to be deny their rights to citizenship in Kenya yet the current and the old constitution provides clear mechanisms on how an individual can acquire citizenship in this country?
Cap 170 of the old constitution provides four ways in which one can become a Kenyan citizen. One can acquire by Birth, by Decent, by Registration and by Naturalization. Under the registration model, it’s stated that a person of full age who is a citizen of commonwealth country or specified African country, who has been ordinarily resident in Kenya for five years, may be registered as Kenya citizens upon making an application for this purpose.
Why do Kenyan successive governments find it’s very difficult to grant them citizenship yet all immigrants’ communities such as the Indians and Arabs who choose to remain after independent became Kenya citizens by virtue that they were born in Kenya and still want to live here? I also learned that Nubians are also denied titled deeds on their land in Kibera on the same ground.
Can you explain the reason they are stateless in the present day Kenya?As constitutional body vested with powers to received complaints from the public and gives advisory opinions on how such complaints can be redress; to promote constitutionalism, provides pubic interest limitations and that provides ways to sort out all manner of maladministration and impunity; what is your stance on this case?
This is injustice according to me, and as Dr. Martin Luther King once said ‘‘injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere’’ I have never finds a substantial and justifiable evident even from the renowned Kenyans scholars that justify the perpetuation of this behavior.
Can you tell me and the affected persons what make them to be denied their rights of citizenship that has been stipulated for under the constitution; whatever explanations that justify their denial of the citizenship in Kenya is unfair, unjust and dehumanizing in all forms and characters, but I will still love to hear your explanation on the same?
The second question I intended to ask you was to inquire how you deal with laxity and corruption in your office. You may know that vast majority of people today have perfected the art of seeing a tiny particle in other people’s eye before removing a log in their eyes.
On or about June 2014, I went to your office which is situated opposite parliament building in Nairobi; I went together with other law students from Presbyterian university concerning the fate of our law school which was then issued with Order to stop learning by council of legal education. Those who went with me were the likes Mr. Cosmos Mureti, Ms. Murine Ojwang and Mr. Simon Kinyua. We went and presented our written submission seeking help from the Ombudsman. Our submission had four essential demands which includes inter alia;
- That Ombudsman to quickly intervene and write to the Council of legal education and ask them to release their report about the law school, because at that time, the Presbyterian university had made application for the extension of its provisional accreditation a year before but the council was delaying in releasing the report;
- That the CLE should not Order the law school close when it’s the same institution that authorized its operations in the first place;
- That if the council for legal education did find it fit to closed down the school definitely, than it should transfer us to other four universities which had full accreditation in the country and;.,
- That if CLE do not have jurisdiction to facilitate our transfer to other universities, it should compel Presbyterian to refund our fees that we have paid for three of four years because ordering the school close will meant that even what we have studied is invalid therefore we can’t be given an exemption for units that we have done in Presbyterian university law school.
After submission of the foregoing, we were told by lady who work in Ombudsman’s office to came back and check the feedback in fortnight time, later on when we check the progress, nothing change; we keep going there for months until we gave up.
Up to date, we never received any response from the Ombudsman office. The question is, why did that happen yet the constitution has provided you with responsibility to offer advisory opinion and or provides public interest litigation? I rest my case.
The writer can be reach for comments via firstname.lastname@example.org