Judiciary protests attacks over High Court BBI ruling

Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 00:00 |
The Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association secretary general Derrick Kuto (third right) addresses the press. Photo/Courtesy

Judges and magistrates yesterday accused some high-ranking and powerful Government officials of openly threatening the five judges who declared the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) process unconstitutional.

 In a hard-hitting statement, the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA) termed the attacks misguided and meant to intimidate the Judiciary.”

 “KMJA is alarmed by the daily attacks directed at the individual judges who sat on that Bench.

Such attacks are an affront to the decisional independence of the judges and the rule of law,” said the association in a statement signed by secretary general Derrick Kuto.

 Said he: “What is surprising is that even high-ranking and powerful officials have openly threatened the judges who participated in the petitions.

There are past and documented incidences where judges and judicial officers as well as their associates have been attacked in their line of duty.

It is for this reason that we wish to condemn the said utterances in the strongest terms possible. The same are ancient, irresponsible and retrogressive.” 

 KJMA, without naming the the persons asked the Inspector General of Police to immediately investigate the matter with a view to prosecuting the culprits.

Similar calls

 The statement came on the day the five judges Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Chacha Mwita and Teresia Matheka, announced they would make a ruling on an application filed by the Attorney- General seeking to stay their judgement.

The Attorney-General has since withdrawn the application (see separate story).

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has also indicated it will appeal the judgement this week.

 KMJA statement follows similar calls for restraint among Kenyans in the wake of the judgement, which threw the BBI process into disarray.

 Opposition chief Raila Odinga, who alongside President Uhuru Kenyatta are the key movers of the BBI project which seeks far-reaching amendments to the Constitution, while expressing disappointment at the judgement, asked Kenyans to restrain from personalised attacks on the judges.

 He, however, maintained that the judgement was a direct affront on the Presidency and the Office of the President, vowing to challenge it in court.

Like the IEBC and the Attorney General, Raila’s lawyers are also preparing their papers to appeal the judgement in the Court of Appeal.

 Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka has also pleaded with Kenyans to desist from attacking the five judges even if they are dissatisfied with the judgement.

 “Even though some of us may disagree with various declarations made in that high voltage judgement, we can disagree without being disagreeable,” he said.

 In the statement, KMJA demanded that the Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i immediately assures Kenyans that judges and other judicial officers are safe given the sensitive nature of their assignments.

It also urged relevant officers of government to immediately engage the Judiciary to ensure the security of all judges, magistrates and Kadhis. 

Veiled threats

“We wish to assure Kenyans that such cowardly acts and veiled threats will not dissuade us from boldly dispensing our duties independently and within the law,” Kuto said. 

 The association reminded Kenyans of the violence that rocked the country in the aftermath of the 2007 General-Election, warning that it was partly as a result of Kenyans lacking faith in local courts at the time.

 “The loud voice of Kenyans on the independence of the Judiciary in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 cannot, therefore, be ignored,” the association noted.

 It observed that the numerous petitions that were filed in court over the BBI case were a testament of Kenyans’ faith in the Judiciary.

 “We should be proud of our judges for offering jurisprudential leadership worldwide,” said Kuto. 

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