Kenya: Ex-Soldiers Still to Be Compensated 40 Years After Failed Coup

Theirs is a story of pain, disappointment and rejection, all rolled in one. They were unfairly targeted, arrested, detained, tortured and later wrongfully dismissed from the military on suspicion of taking part in the failed plot to overthrow President Daniel arap Moi on August 1, 1982.

They were later tried and cleared by courts, and awarded compensation running into millions of shillings but to date, almost 40 years later, they are yet to receive a coin.

Consequently, some 39 Kenya Air Force officers have now petitioned Parliament to speed up their compensation. The soldiers, who were divided into four cases, were awarded a total of Sh170 million.

Due to interest, this amount had since grown to Sh298 million as at June 2021, and it keeps growing, making the ex-officers millionaire paupers who say they have waited too long for what is due to them.

Mr David Gitau Njau, the lead petitioner in one of the four cases, says theirs has been a long wait.

"We've done everything right. We've gone to court, been heard by no less than 12 judges, including at the Court of Appeal, and they have all made rulings that we get our money," Mr Njau told the Nation yesterday.

Fight for compensation

"We have a Senate committee finding saying we should be paid. We have petitioned the National Assembly to compel Treasury to budget for our compensation. What more can we do to get our money? We need to be told so we can do it."

Since the fight for their compensation started, Mr Njau said, 18 petitioners have died -- going to the grave without ever getting justice for what they went through.

Three widows who took over the case and the push for compensation have also since died, leaving orphans unsure of when they will get paid.

"We've suffered enough. Why has the government ignored these court orders for all this while? We now fear that most of our members are of ill health, and above 65, and may die without getting what is rightfully theirs," Mr Njau said.

The ex-soldier, who rose to the rank of sergeant in the Kenya Air Force, led 10 petitioners who were awarded Sh5.5 million each (Sh55 million in total) in November 2013.

Seeking update on case

It grew at 12 per cent interest per annum to Sh80 million in 2018, when another order to pay was made. The 10 now demand Sh96 million as at June 2021. There are three other similar petitions.

In their petition to Parliament last month, the officers asked the House to punish Treasury for not heeding to their calls and respecting court orders.

"Despite the PS for Defence seeing the affidavit on oath averring that the ministry had factored the payment in the 2017/2018 budget to settle the compensation, the orders remain unheeded several years later," the ex-soldiers said.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi sent the petition to the Budget and Appropriations Committee for action.

"Having determined that the issues raised by the petitioners are within the authority of this House, I order that the petition be committed before the Budget and Appropriation committee to consider and report back to the House within 14 days," Mr Muturi said then.

Mr Njau wants the House to update them on their case.

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