Gazette JSC nominees to avert impending Judiciary crisis, Uhuru told

Friday, December 27th, 2019 00:00 |
Court of Appeal President William Ouko. PD/FILE

Lawyers have asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to gazette and swear in judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to avert an impending crisis at the Court of Appeal.

In a move that signals the deepening crisis at Kenya’s judicial system, Court of Appeal President William Ouko on Friday announced that Appellate Court judges in Mombasa, Kisumu and Nyeri will now operate from Nairobi effective January 13, 2020, the date of commencement of the court’s new term.  

Ouko said the death of Prof Justice Otieno-Odek had worsened the crisis at the Court of Appeal.

“At the time of the decentralisation there were 27 judges; three each deployed in Malindi, Kisumu and Nyeri while the rest (18) remained in Nairobi, due to the heavy caseload in Nairobi,” Ouko said in a statement.

He added: “With passage time, this number (27) has gradually shrunk to 15 today following retirement of several judges, appointment of others to (other) higher Government offices, and this week, the sudden death of Prof Justice James Otieno Odek,”

In July, JSC nominated 41 members for the appointment by the President whereby 11 of whom were to bridge the gap in the court of appeal while 30 were to the Environment and Land Court and Labour relations court but the President is yet to appoint them citing integrity issues against some of the nominees.

Speaking to the People Daily in a separate interviews, Law Society of Kenya President Allen Gichuhi, Mombasa LSK chairman Matthew Nyabena, Kisumu-based advocate James Aggrey Mwamu and his counterparts in Nakuru and Nyeri, Benard Kipkoech and Wahome Gikonyo said the suspension of the Appellate Court sittings outside Nairobi could slow down dispensation of justice.

“It will be very expensive for litigants who will be forced to file cases in Nairobi hence might obstruct them from accessing justice,” he said.

He added that the move has also started to roll back the gains the country has achieved since the promulgation of the 2010 Constitution that protects every citizen.

Gichuhi pointed out that all is not lost as they remain optimistic the ruling expected on February 2, 2020, on judges’ gazettement would solve the stalemate.

LSK is enjoined in a petition by a Nairobi-based Adrian Kamotho Njenga who protested the delay in the promotion of judges. Njenga sued the Attorney General and listed the JSC and Chief Justice David Maraga as interested parties.

After the appointment of judges by JSC, President Kenyatta, acting through the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, filed an affidavit in which he revealed the integrity concerns against some of the nominees.

Rift Valley Law Society of Kenya, President Ochang’ Ajigo indicated that litigants will be forced to dig deeper into their pockets to travel to Nairobi as paralysis hits decentralised stations of the Court of Appeal.

“The looming suspension of the sittings outside Nairobi will negatively affect lawyers and litigants in terms of travel costs to Nairobi to seek services, this amounts to injustice,” said Ochang’.

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