Kenya: What Judges Found Out About Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's Statue

15 August 2019

The distance between the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) tower and Mzee Jomo Kenyatta's statue is approximately 80 metres, the High Court established on Thursday.

The court also established that the building and the statue in Nairobi were unveiled on separate days.

Mzee Kenyatta opened the building on September 10, 1973 while the then Vice President Daniel arap Moi unveiled the statue the following day.

These were among the conclusions by three judges who toured the site in the afternoon following a petition by activist Okiya Omtatah against inclusion of the statue on the new currency notes.

The judges will deliver their ruling on September 27.

OMTATAH'S POSITION

In his petition, Mr Omtatah accuses Central Bank of Kenya and its Governor Patrick Njoroge of contravening Article 231(4) of the Constitution by retaining the portrait of Kenya's first President on the new generation currency notes.

Further, Mr Omtatah faults the CBK for acting contrary to Section 34 of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution by directing that all the old Sh1,000 notes be withdrawn by October 1.

"The petitioner is aggrieved that contrary to Article 231(4) of the Constitution, which decrees that Kenyan currency bank notes shall not bear the portrait of any individual, each new generation Kenyan currency bank note bears a prominently displayed portrait of the late President Jomo Kenyatta," he says in the petition.

Similarly, Mr Simon Mbugua, who is former Kamukunji member of Parliament, accuses the CBK of failing to conduct public participation before the new notes were printed.

He said that by putting a picture of Mzee Kenyatta's full statue, which is stands in front of the KICC, on every note, the CBK simply used the architectural masterpiece that is the KICC to sneak the portrait onto the notes.

CBK'S POSITION

But the CBK and the Attorney-General say the statue is part of the complex and that it was not wrong to put the KICC image on the new notes which were unveiled in June.

Making submissions before Justices Kanyi Kimondo, Anthony Mrima and Arsenath Ongeri, CBK said the distance between the building and the statue does not matter because both stand on the same parcel of land.

Through lawyer Ochieng Oduol, the Central Bank further noted that the KICC is a key national monument which was gazetted in July 2013.

"It should therefore be preserved as depicting the very essence of Kenya and its national heritage," court papers state, noting the buildings design and its state as the first 24-storey facility to be built in Kenya.

He also noted that it has a revolving restaurant, a helipad and a host of conference halls.

Mr Oduol further said the image was considered and approved by the Cabinet and that there was adequate consultation before new generation currency notes were printed.

He further said CBK sought a legal opinion on the issue from the AG.

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