Nyandarua county should have courts of law
Access to justice and fair administration of justice is one of the fundamental rights of the citizens as envisaged under Article 48 of the Constitution of Kenya. It is inconceivable that Nyandarua County with a population of 596,268 (per the 2009 census) has no single court of law.Nyandarua county is one of the five counties of the former Central province.
Compared to the rest of the other counties namely Nyeri, Kiambu, Muranga and Kirinyaga, Nyandarua is the least developed in terms of institutions and infrastructure despite its vast geographical size and economic potential particularly in agriculture.
Nyandarua County residents remain a troubled lot as they look for justice in the neighboring counties. The county headquarter situated at Olkalao has no single judicial institution to adjudicate emergent social economic and political conflicts.
None of the four county parliamentary constituencies namely Kipipiri, Kinangop, Olkalao or Ndaragwa has a single court of law establishment for provision of judicial services to the locals. The resident travels hundreds of kilometers to Nakuru and Laikipia counties to shop for justice.
The nearest court is at Naivasha or Nyahurururu depending on the end of county one resides.
This is unfortunate. Such a scenario depicts a high water mark of underdevelopment.
Institutions and agencies of Justice should be proximate and within the governance and administrative units of each region. Lengthy distance from seats justice provides room for gross miscarriage of justice and waste of vital hours of production. Residents arrested for various allegations are held long hours before they are transported to neighboring counties courts for prosecution. The situation is made worse by horrible impassible roads.
Lack of institutions of justice facilitates sprouting of primitive mechanism of conflicts resolution such as kangaroo courts and repugnant cultural practices.
Courts are symbols of justice in areas they operates. They guarantee adherence to law and order. Importance of forum where citizens can prosecute and defend their interests cannot be emphasized more.
Poor people who cannot afford judicial services due to long distances, travel costs and other logistics find their rights trampled on becoming victims of discrimination.
The administration of justice takes into account the social economic dynamics of specific areas in pursuit of equity and fair application of law. In criminal jurisprudence the severity of sentencing considers realities and challenges facing the locality and its people. Neighboring county courts may not be able to appreciate the unique needs of Nyandarua residents.
The ever increasing land disputes, poverty related incidences and general civil disputes must be adjudicated within the County. The local residents cannot afford to make long journeys to Laikipia and Nakuru for elusive justice.
For purposes of comparative analysis Kiambu County with a population of 1.6 million people have six magistrates’ courts located at Kiambu, Githunguri, Kikuyu, Gatundu, Thika and Limuru towns. Muranga County has courts in Maragua, Kigumo, Kangema and Muranga for a population of 942,581.
Kirinyaga County has not less than four court stations in Kerugoya and Baricho for a population of 457,054.Nyeri with a population of 661,156 has courts in Nyeri, Karatina, Othaya and Mukurweini towns not to mention the High Court.
While the aforesaid counties are now demanding for establishment of High court stations, Nyandarua County has no single magistrate court. It is time that courts are established at Olkalao, Engineer, Ndaragwa, Njabini and Magumu towns of the Nyandarua County.
The current Kenya constitution rules out discrimination in so far as distribution of state institutions, establishments and opportunities are concerned and indeed it give the citizens right to demand and agitate for equal opportunities without relaying on ineffective political leaderships whose priorities may not be development but other considerations. This is the reason I will not
shy away to seek solution within the law for the concerned residents who have sought my legal service on the issue.
It is of no value for Nyandarua residents to blame the under development and lack of vital infrastructure on the past or present political leadership, however it is pertinent that they seize the opportunity to discard the unfortunate culture of subservience and take advantage of constitutional guarantees to demand equal opportunities .
The people of Nyandarua have all the rights under the law to petition for creation of court network within their county. This process has begun in earnest. Justice and development goes hand in hand. No region can boast of development without established institutions of justice. To the concerned authorities, take justice to the Nyandarua people.
George N. Kimani, Nairobi (The writer is a lawyer of the High court of Kenya-Email –