Court Lifts Orders Stopping Ruto's Maisha Namba

The orders were issued on Friday, February 23 by Justice John Chigiti of the Milimani Judicial Review Division.

Court Lifts Orders Stopping Ruto's Maisha Namba
Image of a sample Maisha Namba card. /VELLUM KENYA

The High Court has lifted an injunction which stopped President William Ruto's government from moving ahead with the Ksh1 billion project on the registration and issuance of new digital identity cards (IDs) dubbed Maisha Namba.

The orders were issued on Friday, February 23 by Justice John Chigiti of the Milimani Judicial Review Division.

The judge had also ordered that the case filed by Katiba Institute challenging the roll-out of the new IDs be transferred to the Constitutional Division court for hearing and determination.

The judge gave the government the green to proceed with the plan to roll out new generation identification cards after the Ministry of Interior and Attorney General Justin Muturi urged to set aside the orders stopping the registration and issuance of the new generation ID card.

Outside the Milimani Law Courts. /FILE

The Interior Ministry, through its lawyers, had argued that the two court divisions were at risk of issuing judgements that clashed with each other, given that they were handling different cases regarding the legality of the billion shilling project.

The government lawyers also faulted Katiba Institute for not revealing the existence of the second petition.

The Maisha Namba program was suspended in 2023 which triggered a backlog in ID applications across the country.

Justice Chigiti while issuing the conservatory orders, agreed with Katiba Institute that a data protection impact assessment was not carried out before the project was rolled out.

The non-governmental organization also claimed that the Interior Ministry did not carry out adequate public participation before proceeding with the rollout.

“Upon perusing the Application alongside the annexures therein, I find that the Application is not frivolous nor vexatious. It raises an arguable case that should be heard and determined on merit within the Fair Administrative Action Act framework,” the judgement read in part. 

“Leave is hereby granted in terms of prayer 2 of the said Application. The leave shall operate as a stay in terms of prayer 3," the court added.

Katiba Institute also accused the ministry of violating Section 31 of the Data Protection Act which requires that data protection impact assessments be carried out on projects that pose a high risk to the rights and freedoms of data subjects, adding that they used regulations developed in a hurry.

"They remain intent on building the Maisha Namba on the shaky foundation of data illegally collected and processed during the Huduma Namba exercise,” the petitioners told the court.

“They have used hastily developed regulations, adopted in violation of the Statutory Instruments Act, to contravene their Constitutional and statutory obligations."

The government commenced the much-anticipated rolling out of the Maisha Namba on Wednesday, November 1, 2023, with priority given to first-time ID applicants.

On October 30, 2023, President Ruto announced that the new digital IDs, dubbed Maisha Digital Cards should have been ready for launch by December 2023.

President William Ruto speaking at a church service in Riruta, Nairobi on October 22, 2023. /PCS