Chief Justice Martha Koome had something to do with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s appointment of 33 instead of 40 judges that were recommended by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Law Society of Kenya (LSK) president Nelson Havi has claimed.
Taking to his official Twitter account, Havi questioned CJ Koome’s presence at State House during the swearing in of the appointment judges.
President Kenyatta on Friday swore in the 34 judges at State House Nairobi despite protestations from lawyers and politicians over his move to reject six judges from the list recommended by Judicial Service Commission.
The ceremony was witnessed by CJ Koome and Chief Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi and a host of judges.
“If CJ Martha Koome had nothing to do with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s appointment of 33 instead of 40 Judges what was she doing at State House? How did the Judges end up there in robes? Did she tell the President what she has jotted down in that underwhelming unsigned note?” Havi posed.
Those who took the oath of office were seven judges heading to the Court of Appeal, 10 to the Environment and Land Court and 18 others to the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
JSC had recommended the appointment of 41 judges in August 2019 but one died in a road accident last year.
President Kenyatta, however, appointed 34 on Thursday leaving out justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Weldon Korir and Aggrey Muchelule, all currently serving as High Court judges.
He also rejected Evans Makori and Judith Omange Cheruiyot, who had been recommended for the Labour Court.
The Court of Appeal is required to have 30 judges but currently has 13 judges, following the retirement of some judges and promotion of others including justices Koome and William Ouko, who were elevated to the Supreme Court.
Distancing herself from the recruitment process, which happened close to two years ago – before she was the CJ, Koome urged Uhuru to appoint the remaining six judges.
In a statement on Friday, she said, “The 34 Judges have today taken their oath of office witnessed by H.E the President. I note with great concern that 6 persons who wererecommended by the JSC for appointment were not gazetted.”
Koome gave the example of what happened in January 2014, when the JSC recommended the appointment of 25 nominees as judges, and in June 2014, the President initially appointed 11 of them and subsequently appointed the remaining 14.
On Friday, the LSK lawyers’ lobby demanded that the president should appoint the six remaining judges omitted from his gazetted list of appointments, or it will go to court.
LSK said in a statement by its Chief executive Mercy Wambua that the action of the president was unlawful and reeks of impunity.