Kihara, Haji missing as CJ Maraga calls it a day
Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji yesterday snubbed the handing over of instruments of power to acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu in what underpins the deep rooted intrigues in the justice sector.
Chief Justice Maraga was set to retire by midnight yesterday and handed over the instruments of power to Mwilu who will hold the position in an acting capacity until a substantive successor is appointed.
Kihara and Haji, however, did not show up or send a representative to the ceremony despite an invitation, signalling the bumpy road that lies ahead for Justice Mwilu during her temporary stint in the office.
A judicial staffer had to remove their names from the bench, which had been preserved for them in the special sitting organised in honour of Maraga.
The two were to sit next to Law Society of Kenya President Nelson Havi.
In his final remarks to the judiciary yesterday, Maraga called for an end to impunity and urged Kenyans to support the acting CJ and his successor.
Rule of law
Maraga also urged judges not to let Kenyans down but to be guided by the rule of law as enshrined in the Constitution saying that he was worried of the ‘war drums being beaten already by politicians”.
“Always stand firm because God and the people of Kenya will defend you,” he said.
“I want to tell you judges, Kenyans have bestowed you to be the guardians of our constitution, I have heard politicians say they are better since they were elected. I want to tell you that you are in a better position than them,” he said
“You live in this country and you have heard the drums of political war have started beating.
If you waver and do the wrong thing and this country descends into chaos, God will punish you. Do the right thing and the people of Kenya will defend you,” he said.
Sources within the Judiciary intimated to the People Daily that Haji and Kariuki may have snubbed Maraga’s exit ceremony held at the Supreme Court headquarters due to two pending cases before the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) involving Justice Mwilu.
Maraga was driven in his official car into the Supreme Court draped in robes as a judge but he left as an ordinary citizen.
And one of his last responsibilities as Supreme Court judge was to preside over a petition by the LSK seeking clarity that he was set to retire at midnight.
The court issued the orders and which were served to Maraga. After giving his farewell speech, Maraga in a symbolic ceremony handed the instruments of power to Mwilu before he was de-robbed to signify his retirement as a judge.
He then bid his colleagues goodbye, handed over his official car number plate to the Registrar of the Judiciary before he was driven away as an ordinary citizen.
Havi had moved to the special court with a motion to have the CJ to be deemed to have retired by midnight yesterday having attained the age of 70 years.
DCJ Mwilu allowed the application but also noted there was a quorum hitch as Justice Njoki Ndung’u was unable to sit due to matters she could not avoid.
However, the court heard and determined the matter and issued the orders sought by the lawyers lobby.
“The notice of motion succeeds in entirely and is granted as prayed, the CJ shall be deemed to retire at midnight tonight, there shall be no orders to cost.
These proceedings shall be made permanent proceedings of the court,” she ruled.
Kihara has been at loggerheads with Maraga over the appointment of 41 judges.
Maraga in June last year accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of frustrating the appointment of 41 judges proposed by the Judicial Service Commission in July 2019.
He claimed the President’s refusal to swear in the Judges despite court orders requiring him to do so within 14 days caused near paralysis of court operations and backlog of cases in the Judiciary.
“The President has left me no option but to raise the matter through this public statement.
It will be a dereliction of my duty if I do not raise Wanjiku agonies in my domain. At least let her know that I share in her frustrations,” he had said.
Maraga also accused the executive of continuously disregarding court orders and willfully neglecting to settle dozens of Court decrees issued by various Courts against the Government with a don’t care attitude.