CJ, Executive war escalates over fresh ‘video attack’

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020 00:00 |
Senate Majority leader Samuel Poghisio briefs the media at the Supreme Court building, yesterday moments after he and Senate Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata (right) had a closed-door meeting with Chief Justice David Maraga (centre). PD/John Ochieng

Bernice Mbugua and Irene Githinji @BerniceMuhindi

The war between the Judiciary and the Executive has become murkier with Chief Justice David Maraga now claiming a video attacking him and other judges is meant to undermine Judicial Independence.

At the same time, the new Senate leaders yesterday met with CJ Maraga, in what they described as part of seeking better collaboration between the two arms of government.

The CJ on his official Twitter handle shared a video which attacks him, some judges and members of Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

“This is how low they have sunk in their determination to undermine the Judiciary and judicial independence,” wrote the CJ on his Twitter handle when he shared the video on Sunday.

The video accuses  the CJ and JSC of privately vetting the 41 judges who the President has refused to appoint, among other defamatory words.

Maraga, on June 8, accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of frustrating the appointment of 41 judges proposed by the JSC in July last year.

The CJ claimed the President’s refusal to swear in the Judges despite court orders requiring him to do so within 14 days had caused near-paralysis of court operations and  backlog of cases in the Judiciary

Maraga also accused the Executive of continuously disregarding court orders and willfully  neglecting to settle dozens of court decrees issued against the government.

The Attorney General, a day later, hit back at the CJ accusing him of lately taking to making public attacks on the President and the Executive at large.

“The attacks by the CJ had taken a personal slant and are in breach of established norms of the government,” the AG said.

He claimed Maraga was setting a tone for judges and magistrates over matters that are being litigated or would be litigated in the near future before them.

The AG noted that while the President was keen on upholding the rule of law, he was not keen on appointing judges whose conduct is questionable.

Thereafter a series of various form of attacks were directed at the Chief Justice. A petition was even filed at JSC seeking the removal of the Chief Justice.

Coordinate ministries

Last week on  Friday, the Judiciary asked the Inspector General of Police to investigate banners that were put up on footbridges in most parts of Nairobi insulting and defaming CJ Maraga.

In a statement, the Judiciary also asked the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) and Nairobi County government to ensure public spaces were not used to for criminal activities.

“These attacks are clearly meant to threaten and intimidate the Judiciary...” read the statement. 

Law Society of Kenya President Nelson Havi yesterday on his Twitter handle stated that the  targeted vilification of CJ David Maraga and judges should be resisted, fought and remedied.

 The two arms of government have also been at loggerheads recently over Executive Order No. 1 of 2020 which was issued by President Uhuru. The order authorised the President to direct and coordinate the functions of ministries and government departments. 

Meanwhile, Majority leader Samuel Poghisio and Majority Chief Whip Irungu Kang’ata described the visit as one of their first assignments in their new roles.

“... it was basically a courtesy call, we are independent but interdependent,” said Poghisio after the meeting at Supreme court.

Maraga said: “They requested to see me this morning, you know they were recently elected into office. It is just a courtesy call…independence does not mean we work in silence.”

Poghisio distanced himself from arising issues between the Executive and the Judiciary, saying that the Legislature is not in any way involved.

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