LSK divided over plan to protest ‘court contempt’

Divisions have emerged within the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) over the planned boycott of court proceedings to protest disregard of court orders. A section of lawyers have opposed LSK president Isaack Okero’s call for a week-long boycott of all court proceedings terming it counterproductive.

Speaking to The Nairobi Observer, senior advocate James Mwamu said there was no consensus among lawyers and the boycott should be suspended because it will flop. “LSK did not consult widely when making that decision and it would be prudent for the officials to rethink the strategy,” said Mwamu. Last week, Okero announced a week-long ‘yellow ribbon campaign’ by its members to protest the disregard of court orders by State.

In a statement to newsrooms, Okero said lawyers would keep off the courtrooms except in election petitions proceedings that are guided by timelines. “The court boycott shall be for one week commencing from the 12th, February 2018 to the 16th February 2018 but will exclude election petitions most of which are almost concluding and are subject to strict timelines. LSK expressed concern over what it termed as brazen disregard of court orders and violation of rights by the government, saying this could precipitate anarchy in the country.

Immigration lawyer George Wajackoyah accompanied Mwamu who is vying for the LSK presidency. “The courts have not wronged us. Therefore, we should not be seen as we are directing our angers towards them,” he added. He pointed that the issue has divided the members because it was not well-thought-out. “A committee should be put in place to deliberate on this because it is a knee jerk reaction. We tend to lose the battle and look like politicians than professionals,” he said.

According to Okero, during the period, lawyers will also hold peaceful protest marches across the country as part of the campaign. “Protests shall be by way of marches organised by each branch to be held on the morning of 15th February 2018 culminating at the local law courts at which shall be held discussions sessions on obedience and enforcement of court orders and the importance of universal adherence to the rule of law,” read the statement.

LSK called on its members to appear fully robed and wearing the yellow ribbons of protest during the marches. Meanwhile, LSK says it will continue in its quest to seek justice for deported opposition lawyer Miguna Miguna. The society further said it shall institute proceedings on the matter of the shutdown of broadcast services, in which it shall seek appropriate orders and declarations as well as personal liability.

Last week, Chief Justice David Maraga broke his silence on government officials’ display of contempt for court orders in the last one week. Maraga, through his statement, sought to remind government officials and institutions that they are duty-bound to see to the enforcement of court orders. Where aggrieved, he impressed upon them that there are legal avenues through which they can seek redress.

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