In Summary
  • The girl’s father has moved to court under a certificate of urgency seeking a review of the ruling.
  • The magistrate's ruling granted his estranged wife full physical custody of the child.
  • The minor's father now says the orders were contrary to the ascertainable wishes, best interests and welfare of the minor.

The dispute involving a 10-year-old girl from Mwingi, Kitui County, heads back to court for review today (Wednesday) amid uproar and criticism by children’s rights activists over the controversial ruling on her custody.

The girl’s father has moved to court under a certificate of urgency seeking a review of the ruling granting his estranged wife full physical custody of the child, saying that the orders were contrary to the ascertainable wishes, best interests and welfare of the minor.

APPREHENSIVE

In a sworn affidavit, the father said he was apprehensive that unless the judgment is reviewed, the minor stands to suffer irreparable physical, psychological and mental torture, negating the best interests of the child.

“That despite my willingness to hand over the child to the mother in full compliance of the court’s orders, the minor has refused to go with the plaintiff. I have numerously explained to her that I shall always be there for her but such persuasion has not borne fruit,” the father’s affidavit reads.

He pointed out that in the last court appearance, in the presence of the trial magistrate and in the full glare of the public, the child refused to be handed over to the mother by wailing and clinging desperately to him.

The father – a secondary school teacher – says he fears for the safety of the child and that every effort must be made to save the minor from further agony.

VIDEO

The girl captured national attention when a video circulated showing her crying loudly in apparent protest against the court’s decision to transfer her from her father’s care to her mother who has been absent for nine years.

The minor began crying as soon as the court translator read out the orders issued by Mwingi Principal Magistrate Mogire Onkoba that she should immediately be handed over to her mother, who had won the child custody case.

In the video, which the man wants to produce in court, the girl can be heard saying, “Niache, niache, sitaki kuenda na wewe. (Leave me alone, leave me alone, I do not want to go with you)”.

The case pits a secondary school teacher and his estranged wife who moved to court seeking to reclaim the minor’s custody from him after being separated for nine years.

NEW EVIDENCE

The teacher says consequent to the delivery of the judgment, other new and important matters have come to light which, at the time of hearing and determination of the suit, he was unaware of and, worse still, he could not produce the evidence at the time the judgment was delivered.

Last week, drama unfolded as police officers in the courtroom and officers from the Children’s Department moved to effect the orders even before the magistrate left the chambers, prompting the girl to tightly grab her father and start wailing loudly.

The father remained on his seat in the courtroom as his estranged wife attempted to grab the girl from him.

The matter was the last to be heard that day and a crowd started milling around after the court adjourned.

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