Court orders ex-MP to pay former MCA Sh600K for questioning her morals
A Meru High court has ordered former Laisamis MP Joseph Lekuton to pay Sh600,000 compensation to a Marsabit female nominated MCA for questioning her morals publicly five years ago.
Justice Alfred Mabeya ruled that former nominated MCA Zamzam Hussein Aligela had sufficiently proved that the former legislator insulted her during a political rally presided by then Marsabit Governor Ukur Yatani (now Treasury Cabinet Secretary).
During the meeting, the former MP had approached Ms Zamzam from behind a crowd of about 50 women as they served refreshments and enquired in Samburu “what is this (redacted) doing here?”.
Ms Zamzam then turned in disbelief and faced Mr Lekuton, who in turn said to her in English, “you are a (redacted), I will finish you.”
During the hearing that has spanned five years, Ms Zamzam says she was taken aback by the MP’s public utterances since they had a good working relationship, and she wept uncontrollably.
The May 16, 2015 function to open the local Laisamis sub-county office was momentarily thrown into disarray before calm returned.
Justice Mabeya, however, declined to award Ms Zamzam the Sh8 million she had sought for unconditional apology, general and exemplary damages, saying she did not substantiate her claim.
“I hold that the defendant did utter the words complained of. That the said words were defamatory and they referred to the plaintiff. Accordingly, the plaintiff did on a balance of scale prove her case against the defendant.
“I will not award any exemplary damages as they were not proved. As regards to the apology sought, due to passage of time I don’t think the same will suffice at this point,” said the resident judge.
In her testimony, Ms Zamzam said the words disparaged her character and strained her relationship with her husband for a while.
She told the court the words injured her reputation as an MCA, married woman and a female leader in her Somali community which she described as a minority in the vast county.
“I suffered considerable distress and embarrassment and my reputation lowered,” she told the court. Her quest for justice has not been smooth sailing.
Ms Zamzam told the court that she received no help despite reporting the matter to Laisamis police station, Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida), DCI headquarters and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
She filed a civil suit on November 9, 2015 after the police declined to arrest Mr Lekuton.
However, in his defence, Mr Lekuton flatly denied the allegations and counterclaimed for damages against Ms Zamzam, alleging that it was indeed the MCA who questioned his morals.
The former legislator told the court that he had greeted the women, but the MCA insulted him. Mr Lekuton also unsuccessfully sought unconditional apology general exemplary, aggravated damages, costs of suit and interest.
The court threw out his counterclaim saying it was filed late.