I will serve you to the best of my abilities, assures Koome
Appellate judge Martha Koome yesterday broke her silence following her nomination to become Kenya’s first female Chief Justice, terming it an honour to serve the country in that position.
In a brief statement, Justice Koome assured Kenyans of her “unwavering commitment to serve them to the best of my abilities”.
She expressed her gratitude to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for nominating her out of a crowded pool of 10 candidates, who were interviewed for the position.
“It will indeed be an honour and a great privilege for me to serve this great country as the Chief Justice if confirmed to the office,” said the Court of Appeal judge.
She noted that her nomination to head the third arm of government followed a “thorough, rigorous and competitive process that saw some of the best legal minds come forward as capable candidates demonstrating their willingness to serve Kenyans”.
Thanks God for the opportunity
“As we are aware, this is the beginning of the process, JSC having forwarded my nomination to His Excellency the President, who in line with the provisions of Article 166 of the Constitution shall forward the nomination to the National Assembly for approval,” she added.
She thanked God for the opportunity, at the same time appreciating all those who committed her in prayers through the whole exercise, saying the journey is far from over.
“l continue to prepare for the next stage, and I wish to convey my profound gratitude to all well-wishers who encouraged and prayed for me. I continue to thank God and seek your prayers as l go through the confirmation process,” said Koome.
She spoke on the day President Uhuru Kenyatta forwarded her name to the National Assembly for vetting and possible approval before her formal appointment.
In a communication to the House, Speaker Justin Muturi said that following the President’s decision Koome’s name had been forwarded to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) for vetting.
“I refer the message to the committee of Justice and Legal Affairs for approval hearings. Thereafter, the committee should table the report to the House on or before May 25 for the House to either approve it or reject it,” he said
Justice Koome made history on Tuesday when she became Kenya’s first woman nominee for the position of Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Court.
Yesterday, the Council of Governors (CoG) saluted Justice Koome on her nomination to head the Judiciary.
CoG chairman Martin Wambora said Koome’s nomination is a historic and significant era for the country and a move in the right direction for the courts.
Wambora described the judge as an ardent human rights defender, “a spirited and brilliant legal mind and a woman leader of many firsts”.
According to Wambora, this has been showcased in her legal career trajectory that only exemplifies excellence.
“On behalf of the Council of Governors and all the 47 County Governments, we wish you the very best on your nomination and assure you of our continued support. Congratulations once again,” said Wambora.
In Justice Koome’s ancestral village of Kithiu, a few kilometres from Meru town, villagers continued to celebrate her nomination.
Seventy eight-year-old Salome Maingi, a relative of the appellate judge, thanked God for answering the village’s prayers, saying Justice Koome had demonstrated her leadership skills since childhood.
“I held Martha in my arms when she was a small baby. She grew up as I watched. She portrayed her leadership qualities very early in life because she did not entertain idle talk,” said Salome.
She urged Justice Koome to uphold courage and impartiality if appointed to become he next Chief Justice.
“I have been praying for Martha throughout the process and I am optimistic that she will be the next Chief Justice. What we can request as villagers and relatives is that she makes us proud by serving our country with courage and diligence, without any bias so that she can reform the judicial system and ensure that cases in Kenya are dispensed with without any delays,” she added.
At the same time, the Institute for African Women in Law, in a statement, expressed confidence that Koome’s competency will steer Kenya’s judiciary towards efficiency and transparency.
“Justice Koome’s judicial experience, passion for the rule of law, and human rights made her a perfect candidate for the position. She came out as the top candidate from a list of 10 candidates vying for the position,” the statement said.
It added: “We wish her the very best in her tenure as the Chief Justice of Kenya. She joins a long line of women who have served as Chief Justices across Africa.”
The Kenya Women Parliamentary Association (Kewopa) also welcomed Justice Koome’s nomination, saying it speaks volumes about the country’s readiness for female leadership.
Kewopa chairperson Gathoni Wamuchomba said Justice Koome’s track record in leadership is unquestionable, citing her role in the second liberation, the struggle for human rights and a new constitution.
“On behalf of Kewopa, we praise Justice Koome for the milestone which is a major stride in women’s leadership in the country,” said Wamuchomba. Reporting by Roy Lumbe, Mathew Ndung’u and Dorcas Mbatia