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Sunday 25 January 2015

Jailed Uhuru pal pleads for intervention

Double tragedy has hit the family of jailed  and ailing Kitale based journalist John Abel Oroni with the expiry of a deadline to operate the scribe’s  elder son Sammy  Oroni currently suffering from acute bout of  tuberculosis.
Moi Referral and Training Hospital doctors led  by Prof Stephen Ondigo had arranged to have the operation done early September last year but postponed the event on the request  of the parents and management of St Anthony Boys’ High School to allow the  teenager time to sit for the 2014 KCSE of which he was a candidate. Sammy had skipped the same exam in 2013 after hospitalisation and teachers thought that interference would dampen the morale of one of the best performing students in the school. But as fate would have it, when the boy finished the exams in readiness for the operation that was to   cost Sh500,000, his father, the only breadwinner  was committed to a six-month civil jail for allegedly defaming the Trans Nzoia forest officer Simon Wahome and failing to  pay a whopping Sh3.5 million fine imposed by the Kitale principal magistrate JA Owiti. 
The scribe had been accused of allegedly defaming the civil servant Wahome by stating that he had settled Ugandan nationals in a Trans Nzoia forest, allegations the local leadership has been claiming to date. Worse, the father had prior to being jailed also developed a complication of the heart and had been referred to Kenyatta National Hospital before he was incarcerated to the gallows.
A medical report from the Cherangany Nursing Hospital, from where he was being attended, says that the journalist may die if urgent specialised treatment is not forthcoming. However, the prison management is yet to release him insisting that they have a resident clinical officer for the purpose.
“The above named John Oroni has been attending our facility being managed for congestive cardiac failure and on follow-up. We have since referred him to a specialised treatment. Due to his condition, he is not fit to be in the cell. We recommend if it could be possible for him to attend his charges outside the cell to allow him follow up due to his condition,” the hospital pleads in a letter dated December 3 2014. Now, Oroni family is appealing to Uhuru Kenyatta to come to their rescue.
“The doctor who had booked Sammy for operation has been calling since Christmas to say that his condition can not be extended any further as the inflammation growth may interfere with crucial body organs like the lungs and the kidney. Now, we do not know whether to attend to the father or the son,” said the wife Alice. She says that Oroni was jailed just as he was organising to attend the clinic at Kenyatta Hospital. “Any time we visit him in prison, we find a pale imitation of the man we once knew. We’re making a frantic appeal to those in a position to help to do so urgently,” she says, adding that the president had been his close friend.
The mother of five says that since his incarceration, the family had made five major applications to   have him released without any progress. The case proceeded for hearing ex-parte after interlocutory judgment had been entered against the  defendants, Oroni included for nonentry of appearance after service of summonses to enter appearance. Lawyer David Ingosi was instructed when the matter was at the execution stage. “We made an application to set aside the exparte proceedings and judgment but the said application was dismissed with costs on   September 28 2014. Oroni was thereafter arrested in execution of the decree,” he said. “The case filed in court on September 22 2011, was heard exparte in September 2013 and judgment delivered in October 2013 for Sh3million against the defendants jointly and severally together with the costs of the suit.
Oroni has since appealed before Justice Joseph Karanja and mention is slated for February 18 2015.
But the wife feels that her husband may die in prison if something urgent is not done. “Once outside, he will make every effort to ensure the son’s operation is also undertaken,” she says. Wahome has dismissed any attempts to settle the matter outside court insisting that he has already paid Sh10,800 for the food of the jailed. Oroni on his part insists that he was not served and that is why he did not file a defence. He wants the High Court to order that the case be heard afresh insisting that he has evidence against the civil servant of what he published.

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