A Nakuru court has set August 24 2012 as the date for the hearing of a case where human rights activist Ann Njogu and her son are accused of assaulting her father Peter Njuguna Njoroge.
The court presided by Nakuru Principal Magistrate Muniu Njoroge admitted that the constitutional rights of the accused were violated especially the right to a fair trial as enshrined in article 47 of the constitution.
In Article 47 (2), the law provides that “if a right or fundamental freedom of a person has been or is likely to be adversely affected by administrative action; the person has to be given written reasons for the action”.
“It is critical for the accused to be invited to give their version of what transpired so that they are involved in the investigation,” Magistrate Njoroge said.
He directed that the accused be given an opportunity to record their statements and give their side of the story before the case is heard.
Lawyer Benard Akong’o, holding a brief for lawyer Elisha Ongoya representing Ms Njogu, had insisted to the court the need for proper investigation to be carried out arguing that his clients’ rights were violated as they were not involved in the investigation process.
The defense lawyer had also raised concern that the accused were informed of the matter only after the warrant was issued.
“Decision to prosecute must be based on two main factors that include public interest test and evidential test. For prosecution to objectively do that there is need on the part of the investigating officer to actually hear both the defense and the accused,” Akong’o explained.
Article 47(1) of the constitution provides that every person has the right to administrative action that is expeditious, efficient, lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair. Article 50(2b), also provides that every accused person has the right to a fair trial which includes the right to be informed of the charge with sufficient detail to answer it.
After the ruling, lawyer Akong’o made a plea for the accused to plead to the charges in order for the case to be dispensed expeditiously and the plea was granted and a hearing set for August 24 2012.
The activist was accused that on December 29, 2011 at Tumaini farm in Mirangine in Nyandarua County, she assaulted Peter Njuguna Njoroge causing him actual bodily harm.
According to Njuguna, his daughter and her son attacked him during an argument over the construction of a new latrine within the family's farm in Mirangine.
For unclear reasons police files show that Njuguna went to the police on January 20 2012 and not immediately after the incident (December 29 2011) as he claimed in his statement.
From the police files, too, it is also curious that Njuguna kept altering his allegations. In the first instance, he does not mention Ms Njogu as his assailant and had instead claimed that it was Ms Njogu’s son who attacked him; the son is underage.
Ten days later, from the same files, Njuguna made a different statement claiming that Ms Njogu had attacked him together with her two sons and her brother.
The activist’s father also made claims in his statement that his daughter had attempted to kill him yet Ms Njogu has not been charged with attempted murder.
In her first statement to the media, Ms Njogu said that she was terribly distraught and very distressed by the allegations arguing that she has great love and respect for her parents and acknowledged with great humility many years of nurturing and support from her parents.
“Over my numerous years as a human rights activist and defender, I have fought for the human rights, social justice as well as equality of all. I am not just a strong believer in these rights but have been committed to realizing them at all levels. This means that I fervently believe that a threat to one individuals’ human right is a threat to all people’s rights,” she held during a press briefing in her office.