Joho risks jail term in Doshi land case
Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho and a member of the County Assembly risk going to jail for six months after they were cited for contempt of court.
Justice Sila Munyao of the Environment and Land Court in Mombasa has directed Mr Joho and Changamwe MCA Bernard Ogutu to attend court on March 3 for mitigation before being sentenced.
Mombasa businessman Ashok Doshi and his wife, Pratibha, had filed an application seeking to have Mr Joho and the MCA cited for contempt of court for disobeying a court order restraining the county government of Mombasa from trespassing on a parcel of land belonging to them.
In their application, Mr Doshi and his wife wanted the Governor and the MCA summoned to court to show cause why they should not be committed to civil jail for six months for disobeying court orders.
“Mr Joho has not denied that he was on the suit property, neither has he denied inciting the persons present to undertake acts of vandalism complained of,” said Justice Munyao in his ruling.
The judge further noted that Mr Joho had not sworn any affidavit to refute that he was in the parcel of land.
Justice Munyao further said that it was not difficult for the court to find that there was a violation of the court orders by Mr Joho and Mr Ogutu.
“There is overwhelming evidence that there was at very least a visitation of the property by Mr Joho and Mr Ogutu contrary to orders of the court. The visitation led to the demolition of the gate and wall of the applicant,” said the Judge.
The Judge further ruled that Mr Joho is the chief executive of the county government hence he cannot escape responsibility for acts of disobedience.
Through lawyer Willis Oluga, the businessman and his wife argued that on May 10 last year, county government officials led by Mr Joho, accompanied by some leaders from Mombasa, hired goons who invaded the land and demolished the gate in breach of the court order.
The plaintiffs further argued the leaders held a public rally where they accused Mr Doshi of being a land grabber.
Through lawyer Murtaza Tajbhai, Mr Joho told the court that he was never served with the contempt application or court order.
“It is clear from the video that the Governor and the second defendant (Mr Ogutu) were outside the parcel of land,” said Mr Tajbhai.
Mr Tajbhai further argued that there was no official from the county government during the demolishing carried out by the members of the public.
The plaintiffs further argued that as a government, the county led by Mr Joho and Mr Bernard Ogutu as a public officer should be the ones on the front line in upholding the rule of law and dignity of the courts yet they have exhibited acts of lawlessness and hooliganism.
“Law and order must be observed and court orders obeyed by all irrespective of status and position held,” part of the application stated.
In their main suit, the plaintiffs are also seeking a permanent injunction to restrain the county government and Mr Ogutu or any person acting for them from demolishing the perimeter wall or any other structure erected on the land.
The businessman and his wife argue that other than trespassing on the land and causing serious damage, the county government threatened to evict them ostensibly with the aim of reverting ownership of the land to Changamwe secondary school.
The plaintiffs also argue that the allegations that the land was grabbed from the school are baseless because the title and ownership of the previous owner from whom they purchased it had been affirmed by various courts.
“The defendants have no legal basis to visit the plaintiff’s property which is private and serve enforcement notice which does not relate to their (plaintiffs’) property and is not addressed to them (plaintiffs),” the petition states in part.