The law is an ass, so the saying goes.
Its origin is found in Oliver Twist, the novel by Charles Dickens. Mr. Bumble, when wrongly accused of being complicit in theft by his wife, he uttered the following words: “The law is an ass – an idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience – by experience.”
In layman’s terms, any law that does not engender justice or is open to abuse is largely considered being an ass – a donkey in archaic English – and hence the need for review.
The same phrase applies to Kenya in two ways. The first is to the category of ordinary people imprisoned on trumped-up charges. The second group of people it applies to is criminal politicians.
Hence, the clearance of former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu by the Registrar of Political Parties to vie in the by-election of Nairobi governorship was misinformed and illegal.
This is a man who had been impeached as Governor in Kiambu County for abuse of office and faces criminal charges in a court of law. He is now attempting to lead the capital city!
Prima facie evidence suggests he is a man of impaired credibility for having been found by Parliament – no less – as not fit to lead! In this case, any organization that deals with him or other leaders with integrity issues (particularly Government institutions), need to apply common sense.
It should not be the work of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) alone, but individual Kenyans, the Registrar of Political Parties included, and all other entities to disbar such individuals.
A situation that mirrors Waititu’s is that of John Waluke. Here is an MP for Sirisia, who was confirmed a convict by a court of law. This means Parliament should have declared his seat vacant and called for a by-election from the moment his sentence for 67 years was passed.
But it has instead allowed for him to continue drawing a salary as an MP despite being found guilty of corruption in the NCPB maize scandal.
His appeal is completely irrelevant at this juncture. As things stand, he has lost the mandate of being an MP. Breach of Chapter Six of the Constitution, on integrity, is sufficient to trigger a recall of an MP.
Parliament has the right to make laws but not to stand by a breach of the law. It should be much more reactive to breaches than any other institution in order to give credence to the laws it enacts but alas!
Without institutions like Parliament being at the forefront of determining the law for what it is and not what it ought to be to criminal leaders, we shall never rescue this country from the clutches of cartels. Why did Parliament bother to enact Chapter Six of the Constitution if it does not believe in its spirit?
Determination of culpability and integrity is as much a matter of common sense as it is of law. Avoidance of common sense in the administration of justice has seen those in positions of authority get away with murder – literally. Despite the court’s decision that leaders charged with corruption and other heinous crimes step aside to facilitate investigations, some political parties are yet to ask them to do so.
I wonder why the Governor of Migori, Okoth Obado, who, with most of his family face serious criminal charges, continues to be considered a leader? His Samburu colleague Moses Lenolkulal is carrying on as he battles corruption charges in court.
Parliament and IEBC have gone against the decision of both EACC and DCI on vetting and caused appointment and election of individuals who later turned out not fit to lead. The likes of Waititu and his fellow impeached Governor, Mike Sonko of Nairobi, should never have led any institution had IEBC and Parliament followed initial concerns raised on both individuals’ suitability to lead.
Parliament, and political parties, are not exempt from Chapter Six of the Constitution. They are refusing to destroy impunity for no other reason but subterfuge.
Kenya legitimizes leaders’ criminality like no other society does. Warped laws that our political class stand by and are acquiesced to by some rogue lawyers who are perpetuating impunity. A man with blood on his hands is allowed to roam freely because the law is an ass, indeed a fallacy that only a rotten society can condone.
Somebody who plotted to steal billions of shillings from the public and abuse his office is both legally and politically punished. Which leaves his character in ruins. Such an individual has lost credibility and the right to represent honorable citizens.
The suggestion, on made-up technicalities in the law, by some lawyers that leaders charged with corruption, murder or rape should not step aside makes corruption and other crimes worse. Just like pregnancy and madness, integrity deficiency can be discerned by reasonable men and women. It is not a preserve of lawyers.
The law may be an ass but is not completely devoid of common sense when it comes to integrity.