by AT News Team
A former army officer in Kenya has sued the government for violations of his religious and human rights. Polycarp M. Nyakora served the nation's military from 2002 until December 2012 when he was discharged, reported The Star. "He says that he was discharged after he insisted on observing the true Sabbath day."
Nyakora is an Adventist and was in detention for 42 days because he declined to work on Saturdays. The Kenya Defense Force had not respond to the law suit as of this morning. Nyakora told the court that for the ten years he served in the military, he always sought permission in advance to go to church whenever he had been assigned duty on Saturday. He said that he always attended church on condition that if a distress call was made, he would be able to respond.
Nyakora stated that the confrontation began on May 31 last year when he sought routine permission to be absent from duty on June 2, his usual day of worship. His immediate superior, a sergeant, declined to grant him permission. Shocked by the decision, Nyakora reported the incident to a warrant officer who in turn promised to follow up the issue with the sergeant. When attempts by the warrant officer to plead Nyakora’s case failed, the serviceman sought a meeting with a senior air traffic control officer who simply referred him back to the sergeant who created the incident.
The veteran told the court that he then asked if one of his colleagues could stand in for him so that he could go to church but this too was refused by the sergeant. He said he wondered why the sergeant refused to allow a colleague to stand in for him when he had on several occasions been called upon to stand in for others who were supposed to be on duty but who for various reasons needed to take time off.
After all the attempts to get permission failed, Nyakora admits that he still proceeded to church and reported to work in the evening. He was then informed that he had been discharged. He was also punished with a loss of six days salary. Nyakora also stated he was forced to do manual labor as punishment and ordered to do so on the Sabbath, but defied the orders and attended church on two more Sabbaths which resulted in his being locked up for 42 days. He believes the confinement and subsequent discharge from service were a violation of his rights and is demanding compensation. Nyakora also wants a declaration that the 42-day confinement with a salary cut were illegal.
Nyakora's lawsuit also asks for a court order that he be entitled to pension because he was willing to serve until his retirement and was discharged unlawfully. The Kenya Defense Force is expected respond to the allegations before the court dates are set.
The Seventh-day Adventist denomination in Kenya has nearly 700,000 members in 8,300 congregations. It is estimated that the number of Kenyans who identify with the Adventist faith may be as high as two million. Sociologist Ron Lawson reported in 1994 that more than a million individuals had told the official census they were Adventist adherents.