Kenya: Ex-Garissa Cec in Coma for 22 Months to Get Sh15.7m After Appeal

As he lies in a coma for the 22nd month after being shot in the head, former Garissa County minister Idriss Mukhtar has registered a win at the Court of Appeal.

On Friday, the court endorsed a Sh15.7 million compensation package each to Mr Idriss and two others who were sacked from the Garissa County executive committee in 2015.

In a case which set a precedence that appointees of a governor cannot be fired as per the whims of the county boss, a three-judge bench sitting in Nairobi ruled that Mr Idriss and his two former colleagues in the Garissa cabinet should each receive the Sh15.7 million that was awarded by the Employment court in 2016.

The amount comprises a year's pay plus other benefits, including gratuity accumulated over their period of employment as county ministers.

Mr Idriss, who was the CEC for Youth, Sports, Trade, Investments, Enterprise Development and Cooperatives, together with Mukhtar Bulale, who was in charge of Water and Environment and Salah Yakub Farah, who was in charge of Energy and Tourism, had sued the county after their dismissal.

They were fired after falling out with Garissa's first governor Nathif Jama, who was dethroned by Mr Ali Korane in the 2017 General Election. Mr Jama accused them of travelling overseas without his permission and absconding meetings.

As he challenged his sacking in court, Mr Idriss was among the people who vigorously campaigned for the election of Mr Korane ahead of the 2017 polls.

But after Mr Korane won the seat, their relationship turned cold.

The family says the new governor was never enthusiastic about paying the compensation that had been awarded to Mr Idriss and the two others a year before he took office as governor.

The tiff got so ugly that Mr Idriss threatened to expose the new governor's academic credentials.

The bad blood between Mr Idriss and Mr Korane was cited by the former's family when he was shot at his Kileleshwa house on the night of August 19, 2018.

But Mr Korane, in an interview with the Nation, denied ever plotting to harm Mr Idriss, saying he had nothing to gain from such an act.

Mr Idriss is yet to register any remarkable improvement from since 2018.

The pistol bullet in his head may never be removed, as doctors deem any extraction procedure too risky for the 36-year-old man's life.

His father, Dr Aden Mukhtar, told the Nation that he continues being nursed at home because it became untenable to keep him in hospital.

"Idriss' situation did not change. He's still comatose," said Dr Mukhtar on Saturday.

A suspect who was arrested in connection with the shooting, who had been apprehended after a review of CCTV footage of the scene, controversially died at Parklands Police Station on August 30, 2018. This was just two days after his detention and police said he had hanged himself.

Lawyer Charles Kanjama, who has been representing Mr Idriss, recently took to Twitter to complain that his client has been denied justice as no criminal proceedings ever began after Mr Idriss' shooting and the death of the prime suspect. Mr Kanjama termed it "a crime crying to heaven for vengeance and a scandal of monumental proportion".

As Mr Idriss fights for his life, his family will consider Friday's ruling a boost in their quest for justice.

A bench consisting of Justices Wanjiru Karanja, Hannah Okwengu and Fatuma Sichale dismissed an argument that county executives are hired and fired at the pleasure of the governor.

Expounding on the Employment Act which explains which cadres of employees it doesn't cover, the judges said there is no law in Kenya with specific employer-employee provisions in regard to county ministers and as such, they are entitled to the protection that any employee under a contract should enjoy.

"The Employment Act applies to them and they are entitled to rights under the Employment Act, unless the Constitution, or the relevant statute, or their contract of service provide better terms," the bench ruled.

"Notwithstanding their position as State officers, they were entitled to their fundamental rights and freedoms under the Constitution, which includes right to fair labour practices and right to fair administrative action," the judges noted, making reference to the fact that the three were dismissed without being heard.

The judges thus dismissed the appeal filed in 2019 by the Garissa governor's office and the county government of Garissa and also ordered them to bear the costs incurred by the three former county executives in responding to the Court of Appeal case.

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