Chief Justice Martha Koome: The Judiciary is unbowed by cowardly attack

(From right) Attorney General Justin Muturi, Chief Justice Martha Koome and Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu during a memorial service of late Makadara Principal Magistrate Monica Kivuti who was shot while on duty.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi| Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Ms Kivuti was shot by Chief Inspector Samson Kipchirchir Kipruto, the officer commanding Londiani Police Station (OCS) in Kericho County inside her courtroom in Makadara law courts, last Thursday.
  • Justice Koome said the Judiciary had engaged the Ministry of Interior and the Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome for the deployment of more police officers to reinforce the Judiciary Police Unit and reorganize it into a fully-fledged police unit under the leadership of a senior commanding officer with a fully functional secretariat.

Chief Justice Martha Koome has said the Judiciary will not be intimidated by the killing of Principal Magistrate Monica Kivuti but will continue administering justice without fear, favour or prejudice.

Speaking at Makadara law courts in honour of the slain magistrate, Justice Koome urged the judicial officers and staff to be stronger and more dedicated to living by their oath of office.

She said their strength as an institution lies in the courage, dedication to their calling to public service, compassion and independence. “Let this tragic and evil act not change us,” she said.

“Today, we voice our grief and pain. As an institution, our hearts are heavy, but our spirit remains strong,” she said.

The CJ described the killing of Ms Kivuti as one of the most difficult moments in the history of Kenya’s justice system and an attack on the independence of the Judiciary.

“It will take time to recover, to undo the damage, and to heal the wounds and pain caused by this heinous act. But I am sure that our resilience will enable us overcome this cowardly attack and emerge even stronger,” she said.

Ms Kivuti was shot by Chief Inspector Samson Kipchirchir Kipruto, the officer commanding Londiani Police Station (OCS) in Kericho County inside her courtroom in Makadara law courts, last Thursday.

She died while undergoing treatment at the Nairobi Hospital on Saturday, June 14.

The officer shot and wounded Ms Kivuti shortly after she cancelled a bond granted to his partner Jennifer Wairimu, for skipping court appearance.

Justice Koome said the killing of a judicial officer in the “seat of justice was unprecedented and amounts to an attack on judicial independence and the rule of law”.

Justice Koome said the Judiciary had engaged the Ministry of Interior and the Inspector General of Police Japhet Koome for deployment of more police officers to reinforce the Judiciary Police Unit and reorganize it into a fully-fledged police unit under the leadership of a senior commanding officer with a fully functional secretariat.

“We are taking immediate steps to ensure the safety of our court premises, especially to protect our Judges, Judicial Officers, and staff in the course of their duties,” she said.

Justice Koome said the tragic incident had "exposed and amplified Judiciary’s long-held security concerns and, more broadly, the safety of all who come to our court premises, including court users and the public".

Portrait of Principal Magistrate Monica Kivuti at Makadara Law Court Nairobi during a memorial service. 

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi| Nation Media Group

She said Ms Kivuti, a mother of three, was a dedicated judicial officer who served the bench with boundless dedication, utmost humility, courage, and commitment for nearly eleven years.

Judges and magistrates who spoke described Ms Kivuti as a prayer warrior, patient, fair, just and resolute judicial officer.

Ms Kivuti joined the Judiciary as a resident magistrate on July 17, 2013, and served at Kiambu and Baricho law courts, before being transferred to Makadara law courts as principal magistrate in February last year.

Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu recalled an attack against her on October 24, 2017, when unknown persons sprayed her vehicle with bullets, soon after the Supreme Court nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win.

The attack threw the Supreme Court into panic and the court would not raise a quorum to listen to a petition challenging the repeat poll.

The DCJ said she would probably not be alive had she been in the vehicle. “Our lives matter. Please don’t kill us. What we do is a constitutional imperative. If we are wrong (in our decisions) please don't kill us. The remedy for lies in appealing,” she said.

Justice Mwilu further said judges and judicial officers face the risk every day and wondered how many lives should be lost until the pleas by the Judiciary for additional resources are heard.

The DCJ said Ms Kivuti’s death should not be in vain but a wake-up call to the country’s leadership to enhance the safety and security of judges and judicial officers.

Present during the ceremony were the Director of Public Prosecutions Renson Ingonga, Attorney General Justin Muturi, Law Society of Kenya president Faith Odhiambo and PS Correctional Services Ms Salome Wairimu Muhia–Beacco.