I won’t promote the six judges, Uhuru maintains
Anthony Mwangi and Peter Mwangangi
President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday maintained that he would not succumb to pressure and appoint the six judges he left out of the original list of 41 cleared for promotion..
Addressing a delegation of leaders from Ukambani region at State House Nairobi yesterday, the President maintained that he would not “simply rubber-stamp” the list despite being in possession of a report, which raised integrity issues against the six.
The six are High Court judges Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Aggrey Muchelule and Weldon Korir who have been endorsed for positions at the Court of Appeal.
Others are High Court Registrar Judith Cheruiyot and Chief Magistrate Evans Makori.
Cheruiyot and Makori had been nominated to the Environment and Lands court.
Yesterday, the President reportedly told the delegation, which was led by Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka that he had shared a report on the conduct of the six judges he has refused to appoint with former Chief Justice David Maraga and ODM leader Raila Odinga before going public on the matter.
Uhuru said that the report from a “competent” government agency gave a detailed account of the conduct of the judges, which he also shared with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) before he acted.
The President, according to a source who attended the meeting, said Justice Maraga instead of acting on the information forwarded to him insisted that he would not act on the report, saying that he (Uhuru) either appoints all the judges or none.
“Maraga and the JSC refused to act on the report, which was in their possession,” Uhuru reportedly told the leaders.
“I have also shared it with the current Chief Justice Martha Koome. They have the report; they can act on it or decide otherwise. That is my position,” Uhuru said.
He added; “I have the report and it is clear. What do I do with it? It is for the JSC to process it.”
The President was categorical he will not be a rubber stamp but will allow due process to take place.
Uhuru, according to the source, took issue with judges who dismissed the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) push, saying they acted out of malice and disrespect.
“You heard one of them describing me as Mr Uhuru. That’s showing disrespect to the authority, they went to the extent of bringing in matters that were not raised in the petition,”the President is said to have told the meeting.
There has been a simmering clash between the President and the Judiciary which accuses him of abusing the constitution by refusing to appoint judges vetted by the JSC.
The judiciary claims the President has been usurping the powers of the JSC to pick judges.
“By refusing to appoint the judges, the President has been in defiance of the Constitution, which affords him no discretion in the matter, and numerous court rulings affirming that,” said former CJ Willy Mutunga.
Maraga in a scathing attack on the President claimed that the names of the judges initially blacklisted were changed, raising suspicion that the rejection was fuelled by vendetta.
“The names have changed. I can confirm. Those who were said to have issues have been added and others removed from the list.
If they were bona fide allegations, why are they shifting? Why are they changing the names,?” posed Maraga during an interview.
The President’s position has been roundly condemned by civil society groups, clergy and the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).
Maraga protested that Uhuru’s action amounted to denting the character of the judges as they have been condemned unheard.
He further claimed that two of the judges, Odunga and Ngugi were victimised because of their ruling that scuttled the BBI.
“These judges have been condemned unheard. In the eyes of the public, these are the corrupt judges the President was talking about. That is the message out there.
And that is condemning these people unheard. It can’t happen like that,” Maraga said.
He said he rejected proposals by the President that he appoints some of the judges and leave out the six.
“I don’t know whether the President and my successor negotiated and agreed on cherry-picking of the judges,” Maraga said.
Last week, Mutunga penned a scathing letter accusing Uhuru of being “garlanded in the pettiness of performing power” and betraying his official oath.
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, who attended the meeting, said President Uhuru reaffirmed unity for all political leaders from Ukambani in order to ensure faster implementation of projects in the region.
“The President reiterated that the essence of political power is to bring development to the people and urged leaders to work together so as to realise accelerated development” said Mutua.
Kathiani MP Robert Mbui said the President’s planned tour to Ukambani region will take him to all the three counties of Machakos, Kitui and Makueni to inspect the ongoing projects funded by his government.
Conspicuously missing during the meeting was Makueni Governor Kivutha Kibwana.
A source said Kibwana sent apologies through Ngilu but had stated last week that he would attend only if State House invites him.
There has been bad blood between Kibwana and Kalonzo and this could have been the reason why the governor refused to honour the invite.
The President’s planned visit comes at a time when the region’s leadership has talked of being sidelined in development by the Jubilee Government.
Some of the anticipated goodies Uhuru is set to bring with him during his tour of the region are the Wikithuki Irrigation scheme in Mwingi, completion of Yatta dam, launch of Miwongoni mega dam in Machakos and acceleration of construction of Emali-Ukiah road in Makueni County.