Over 600,000 cases are still pending in court for the last five years despite judiciary officers working as scheduled, Alternative Justice System (AJS) Chairman Prof. Joel Ngugi has said.
Speaking at a three day workshop for stakeholders at Senior Police Officers’ Mess Wednesday, Prof. Ngugi who is in-charge of promotion of Alternative Justice System noted that about 79 percent of the cases are handled by Kadhi Court, Churches, Council of Elders and local chiefs.
The AJS boss is also a presiding Judge at Nakuru Law Court and commended the police officers who had adopted the role of referring some cases to elders and local chiefs, to reduce the burden at law courts.
Justice Ngugi said AJS has been successful in Isiolo since it was started 10 years ago, where the five communities who are majority in the area formed the elders’ courts where resolving internal disputes was being used without going to police.
Prof. Ngugi said AJS is cheap and friendlier where elders, interfaith and local administrators made sure that the litigant parties in the community harmoniously live together.
The AJS chairman who was addressing participants from Nakuru, Othaya, Meru and Isiolo said the introduction of the system was becoming familiar to the residents, reducing the backlog of cases at the courts which could eventually support the judiciary to handle the volumes of pending cases.
He added that AJS would handle any case both criminal and civil but not those related to defilement which is normally handled by court.
Speaking during the occasion Isiolo Interfaith chairman Ahmed Sett said since the pilot project started, women have confidence in making decisions and some communities have selected women as chairperson in their area.
He commended Samburu Council of Elders which is chaired by Ms. Joyce Nairesia who has spearheaded reduction of incidents of cattle rustling, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriages among the community.
Mr. Sett said despite drought and insecurity challenges from the neighbouring Counties, Isiolo residents have fully accepted the elders’ verdict and stopped some criminal activities for the sake of peace and development.
He said no elder in the Committee would favour politicians and agreed to no more bloodshed in Isiolo since the locals have come into agreement and appealed to the government to beef up security along the boundary between Wajir, Garissa and Isiolo to avoid border conflicts.