A Kiambu businessman has sued Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu over the alleged burning of a lorry ferrying charcoal from the county last year.
The plaintiff David Waweru, through his lawyer Jeremy Njenga, filed an application at the Machakos High Court, seeking Sh7.5 million compensation from Ngilu for losses resulting from the lorry burning.
In his court papers, Waweru says that he had purchased his lorry registration No. KCC 050P for use to ferry goods including charcoal from Tana River county to various destinations including Nairobi and Kiambu counties for gain.
Leaders and traders from Kiambu had claimed Ngilu incited youths to burn the charcoal lorry.
“On February 8, 2018, my vehicle was lawfully and carefully being driven from Tana River county loaded with 400 bags of charcoal when the driver was flagged down at Katenge along the Thika-Garissa highway by Ngilu in the company of her bodyguard,” Waweru said.
In the suit, the Kitui county government is listed as the first defendant, while Ngilu is the second defendant.
Waweru says that neither the vehicle nor the charcoal could be released as the lorry and the charcoal had been burnt down and looted.
“In the process, I lost not only the vehicle worth Sh7.9 million but also the charcoal consignment worth Sh800,000,” he said.
The lorry owner wants a declaration that the loss suffered by him was as a result of the defendants’ illegal and unlawful actions and are liable for the said loss.
But Ngilu has filed her defense denying all allegations of involvement of the alleged burning of the charcoal lorry.
In her defence, the governor denied having burnt the lorry and asked the plaintiff to prove and demonstrate to court his allegations of the criminal act.
She said that she is not a county government under the Constitution of Kenya or any such attendant statute of law but is instead the governor of the county government of Kitui.
The governor also denied committing any illegal, malicious criminal acts, or breaching the rule of law.
“I never violated the plaintiff’s and his driver’s constitutional rights or occasion the defendants any loss or damage allegedly suffered,” Ngilu said.
She has denied taking the law into her own hands or acting illegally in any manner with regards to committing the alleged illegalities.
Ngilu says that she did not usurp the role of the police in effecting the arrest or with regards to any action that was taken on February 8, 2018, and that she is a stranger to the action.
Following the incident, Ngilu was on February 20, 2018, summoned by the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) over allegations that she incited residents to burn down lorries ferrying charcoal from the county.
The then NCIC Chairman Francis ole Kaparo said Ngilu had been summoned following utterances made in regards to charcoal burning.
Ngilu had maintained that enforcement of the ban on charcoal production was done in accordance with the law.
Leaders from Kiambu county later led residents in demonstrations calling for Ngilu’s arrest.
Limuru-based transporters lit fires at Kwambira along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway, accusing the governor of targeting specific communities.
Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu, while addressing charcoal dealers, said, “No person should order the destruction of people’s property, Ngilu should be arrested.”
Ngilu had accused cartels in the charcoal business of fighting her since the ban on charcoal production and sand-harvesting took effect.