BY SAM ALFAN.
A ‘public holiday ‘ declared by Azimio La Umoja leader Raila Odinga for Monday March 20, has no backing of the law, the High Court has stated.
Justice Hedwig Ong’udi said a perusal of documents filed by former Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko shows that there is no Gazette notice to that effect as required by the Public Holidays Act.
Justice Hedwig Ongundi said there are procedures to declare public holidays, a mandate of the Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki.
“I have perused the pleadings and annexures and have not found any Gazette Notice by the Cabinet Secretary in charge of Interior declaring 20/03/2023 a public holiday as per Section 3 of the Public Holidays Act. I therefore issue the following directions,” said the judge.
Justice Ong’udi further noted Sonko’s case was a matter of great public interest, hence the need for urgent disposal of the case.
She further pointed out that there are laid down procedures for declaration of public holidays in Kenya
Odinga declared Monday a ‘public holiday ‘ as the start of nationwide protests against President William Ruto’s administration.
The opposition leader has cited among other issues, the rising cost of living, unemployment and skewed appointments by President Ruto as the reason for the protests.
Sonko has named Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Martha Karua, Jeremiah Kioni among others as respondents in the case.
He argues that the declaration by Odinga is unlawful and was meant, calculated, and intended to incite law abiding Kenyans into believing that the said holiday was officially declared by the government.
“ By his said impugned utterances during the stated Public Rally Raila confirmed the imperative necessity of this Honourable Court to issue Conservatory Orders, since the Constitution of Kenya has expressly declared and demarcated in Article 9 (3)4) and (5) of the Constitution of Kenya such of the National holidays celebrated in Kenya, which are public holidays,” says Sonko in court documents.
Sonko also faults Odinga saying he used inciteful utterances that have led to unlawful assemblies.
“As recognized organizers of any public demonstrations the said Respondent are bound to ensure that their activities throughout the said demonstrations are peaceful,” he says in court documents.
He claims the Kenya Police Service owes all members of the public a duty in the arising circumstances, which is to protect from harm and breach of peace both the participants in such public demonstrations as well as the Kenyans who do not wish to participate in such demonstrations.
“The Respondents have clearly demonstrated that they are unprepared, unwilling and repugnant to engage in the peaceful exercise of the Article 37 Constitutional rights, by reason of which this Honourable Court is entitled to intervene as sought,” he argues.
Justice Ong’undi directed Sonko to serve the petition to the respondent’s ahead of the hearing Tuesday, February 21.