Justice Nderi to face panel as interviews for next CJ continues

Monday, April 19th, 2021 00:00 |
Employment and Labour Relations court Judge Nduma Nderi.

Bernice Mbugua @BerniceMuhindi

Search for the country’s next Chief Justice is expected to continue today, with Employment and Labour Relations court Judge Nduma Nderi taking the hot seat.

Justice Nderi will be the sixth candidate to face the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) panel.

The five who have so far been interviewed include High Court Judge Said Chitembwe, Prof Kameri Mbote, Court of Appeal Judge Martha Koome, Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Njagi Marete and former Director of Public Prosecutions, Senior Counsel Philip Murgor.

Candidates were told to explain how they would solve the issue of 41 judges, who were appointed by the commission but the President Uhuru Kenyatta declined to gazette.  All of them said they would negotiate with the Executive to address the stalemate.

 “I would have to meet the President to solve the problem. I cannot sit and swear the judges even if the court orders me to; I will not. I am a man of principle. 

I have to follow the law, so if the law says it is the President who gazettes and swears them, that’s it,” Justice Chitembwe, who was the first candidate to be interviewed told the commission.

The three judges were at the same time grilled about some of their past judgments and rulings.

Chitembwe was questioned about a judgment where he set free a 24-year-old man who had been convicted of defiling a 13-year-old girl.

“I did my best to deal with the case at hand. I can tell you for sure despite all these hullabaloos, the number of magistrates who called to say I freed them from the shackle of Sexual Offenses Act are many,” he said.

Presidential election

Lady Justice Koome on the other hand was questioned about a case relating to the 2017 presidential election.

She was put to task to explain why a bench she was part of issued orders in the middle of the night and in the absence of one party.  

The bench had suspended a High Court decision, which had declared all the returning officers in the entire country as illegally in office.

“My lord, the Attorney General was the then president of the court. I was working on the bench in Mombasa /Malindi, but as you all know the Court of Appeal is a circuit court even if you are in Mombasa you can work in Nairobi.”

Meanwhile, Justice Marete was at pains to explain why he jailed some of his staff for making noise when the court was in session.

In his defence, Marete told the panel that the issue had gone on for six months and senior officers tried to handle it using other mechanisms without much success.

“For a long time, we have had this issue and it is not going away. We cannot sustain this.

On this day, we heard (the) noise and asked my staff to have those making the noise called in,” he said.

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