17 May 2019

Kenya: LSK Faults Fred Matiang'i On Huduma Namba Deadline

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has lashed out at the Interior ministry for overlooking an existing court order on the Huduma Namba registration, which has seen Kenyans scamper to register before Saturday deadline.

The lawyers' lobby terms as misleading the 6pm Saturday deadline set by the ministry.

LSK says the Interior CS Fred Matiang'i failed to consider the court ruling prohibiting any ultimatums from the government for Huduma Namba registration.

Long queues were witnessed Friday across the country, with centres in major towns such as Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nyeri, Eldoret, Kakamega, Garissa, Nyeri, and Meru experiencing a maddening rush.

The lawyers argue that given the court ruling, the ministry is misleading the public by setting deadlines for registration.

COURT ORDER

The Kenya National Human Rights Commission and two others had filed a petition, where LSK was enjoined as an interested party, challenging the coming into effect of the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act 2018 that introduced changes to the Registration of Persons Act that brought in the National Integrity Identity Management System (Niims), popularly known as the Huduma Namba.

The petitioners argued that the law infringed on the rights of citizens to privacy.

In the court ruling, judges Pauline Nyamweya, Mumbi Ngugi and Weldon Korir barred the government from making the registration mandatory, setting deadlines for the listing, denying public services to any unregistered Kenyan, and sharing any information collected with third parties.

"Members of the public are advised that based on the court orders, registration for Huduma Namba is not mandatory and the government should not force anyone to acquire the number. No one should be denied any government services for failing to register. In addition, the government should not set deadlines for registration," LSK president Allen Gichuhi said in a statement sent to newsrooms on Friday.

HOUSING LEVY

Mr Gichuhi also called out the government for ignoring court orders when it issued a newspaper notice on April 16 ordering employers to start remitting deductions for the housing levy from early this month.

Had the Housing ministry also considered an existing court order, Mr Gichuhi stated, the notice could not have been issued in the first place.

That order came LSK sued to challenge deduction of the housing levy, where an employee is supposed to surrender 1.5 per cent of his or her salary to the government, and his or her employer is supposed to add a similar amount to the same kitty every month.

"The court, in a ruling delivered on April 29 by Justice James Makau, granted conservatory and injunction orders prohibiting the respondents from effecting the housing levy pending the hearing and determination of the case in court. The court also directed that hearing shall be on June 25, 2019. Therefore, it is illegal, improper and an affront to the Constitution for the ministry to purport to effect payment of said levy in the prevailing circumstances," stated Mr Gichuhi.

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