Jackson Njeru has been jailed for contempt of court by a Magistrate Court for going against a court order that barred him from commenting on an ongoing case facing prominent lawyer Cecil Miller and Jacqueline Achieng Okuta who alleges Cecil is the father is her daughter and has absconded his duties.
Njeru admitted to have posted on Buyer Beware Facebook Group which he is an administrator on 31st March 2016 where he solicited sh140, 000 from members to remove Jacqueline from Prison where she had been sentenced. She has been imprisoned using the now unconstitutional charge Section 29 of the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act 2013, misuse of licensed telecommunications equipment.
In his message, Njeru asked members to help with fundraising the money in order to release her. He managed to raise the money which was fine in three days and she was released from the Lang’ata Women’s Prison.
But that message was found to be in contempt of a court order issued on 3rd May 2013 which forbade them from commenting on the case. In the case, Children Court no 1114 of 2012 Cecil Guyana Miller is the plaintiff while the first defendant is Jacqueline, the second defendant Njeru and an interested party, Memba Muriuki.
In her ruling, Hon. H.M. Mbati says that Njeru admits to have sent the message as she accepts the argument of Ms. Okuta that she was in prison at the time the message was sent hence she could not have sent it. Njeru argued that the information he used to post the message was from her even when she was in prison.
Njeru while admitting to having sent the message, argued that the evidence of the post on the Facebook group required a certificate before it is admissible in court as enshrined in the Evidence Act, Section 78(a). He goes on to argue that the only reason the plaintiff has an issue with him is because he has publicly expressed support for Ms. Okuta. This inadvertently was him admitting to have posted the appeal.
The magistrate said that the lack of a certificate was a technicality hence the electronic print out of the post was still admissible in court.
She found him in contempt of court and jailed him for five days and a fine of sh100, 000. She said the term was informed by a previous Judgment, civil suit 111 of 2016 which also found him in contempt of court hence to her, Njeru had not learnt a lesson.
The sentence was to start today, 14th November 2016 but was suspended pending a determination on a constitutional petition challenging Section 10(6) of the Magistrate Court Act 2015 which she used to determine the case. The ruling on the same constitutional petition was also to be determined on 4th of November, 2016. The parties are to go before the court today for direction.
Jackson Njeru however said that he will not part with the sh100, 000 fine and will rather serve for ten days.