Court awards Sh34m to Moi govt detainees

The High Court has awarded former detainees Gitobu Imanyara, Njehu Gatabaki and Bedan Mbugua a total of Sh32 million in damages for torture by the government under former President Daniel arap Moi.

Justice Isaac Lenaola awarded Mr Imanyara Sh15 million, Mr Gatabaki Sh10 million and Mr Mbugua Sh7 million.

Justice Lenaola observed that there is nothing that can fully compensate the detainees for the trauma and loss they underwent but caution must be taken when awarding damages that is footed by innocent taxpayers.

The three petitioners filed the case separately in court in 2010 but the cases were later consolidated due to their similarities.

“Exemplary damages are not awardable noting that the burden to the innocent taxpayer. Further I note that the petitioners were not labouring for the second liberation in order to get monetary compensation but for the attainment of a higher ideal; a just society,” said Justice Lenaola.


The Judge added that since the Attorney General admitted of the torture, the court can only go ahead and determine the award.

Mr Imanyara sued the State for the atrocities against him by the KANU government that started in early 80’s and climaxed in the 90’s.

He says in 1982, the government agents arrested and detained him for representing the Kenya Airforce soldiers who had been charged for treason following the failed coup.

He claims that the government accused him of being among the coup plotters. He says the government through then AG Mathew Muli directed Law Society of Kenya to investigate him.

After establishing that there were pending complaints against him on unpaid cheque he was arrested, detained at Kamiti maximum and tortured.

Further, with the orders from the State, the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) struck Mr Imanyara off the advocate roll and subsequently his children failed to attend school.

After his release, he launched Nairobi Law Monthly with the aim of exposing human right abuses in Kenya. The publication was later banned.
The government arrested Imanyara again in 1990 where he was taken to Nyayo chambers, paraded naked, beaten and tortured.

Mr Gatabaki, a journalist was awarded Sh10 million for the arrest and torture by Moi government that also banned his publication, the Finance Magazine leading to a huge loss.

The ban of the magazine and arrest of Mr Gatabaki was occasioned by his strong stand. The arrest was triggered by an article in the magazine authored by the late Jaramogi Oginga Odinga addressed to President Moi on the need for democratic space.

Mr Mbugua pocketed Sh7 million for the loss of job in 1988 following the closure of Beyond Magazine in which he was serving as Editor-in-Chief. He was to face another heavy hand of the Moi administration in 1994 when he was arrested, this time working with People Daily for insinuating that President Moi influenced a certain case at the Court of Appeal.