Maraga, Mwilu accused of derailing hiring of new CJ

Chief Justice David Maraga (right) with Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Court of Appeal President William Ouko during the Annual Judges Colloquium in Mombasa on August 20, 2018.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mr Njeru said the deliberations went on for more than three hours without the commission reaching a resolution, after which the CJ asked the meeting be adjourned to October 16.
  • According to the commissioner, the JSC, on September 16, appointed a committee led by the vice chair Mercy Deche and comprising Justice Warsame, High Court judges David Majanja and Elizabeth Ominde and himself to come up with a roadmap for the recruitment of the CJ and transitional arrangements.

The Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) is headed for a major fallout after one of its members accused Chief Justice David Maraga and his deputy Philomena Mwilu of sabotaging the recruitment of the next CJ.

In an 835-word statement, one of the representatives of the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Macharia Njeru detailed how Mr Maraga, in particular, has frustrated the plan to start the recruitment of his successor, about four months before the Chief Justice is due to retire.

“It is clear that the Hon Chief Justice with a few others are hell-bent on derailing the orderly process of recruitment of his successor leaving the institution of the Judiciary in a crisis of leadership. The commissioners will not allow any manner of influence whether external or internal. It is clear that a few elements in the Judiciary are attempting to control the process,” said Mr Macharia.

But the statement drew instant rebuke from LSK, which accused Mr Njeru and its female representative Mercy Deche of taking a position that is “manifestly unlawful and unconstitutional” by attempting to begin the recruitment of the next CJ while Mr Maraga is still in office.

Targeting Justices

“We are aware of attempts to amend the law with the selfish and myopic intention of targeting Justices David Maraga and Philomena Mwilu who appear to have been shackled with the highest blame for the September 1, 2017 decision annulling the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta,” LSK said.

In confirmation of the intense boardroom wars at JSC, Mr Njeru detailed what he considered efforts by the Chief Justice, his deputy and Court of Appeal representative Justice Mohammed Warsame to derail the recruitment of the next CJ.

According to the commissioner, the JSC, on September 16, appointed a committee led by the vice chair Mercy Deche and comprising Justice Warsame, High Court judges David Majanja and Elizabeth Ominde and himself to come up with a roadmap for the recruitment of the CJ and transitional arrangements. The committee then co-opted Mr Patrick Gichohi.

Chief Justice

He said the committee recommended that recruitment should start immediately and the appointment to take place after Mr Maraga has left office.

“In the commission's meeting of September 30, 2020, the committee presented its report. The commencement of recruitment process was opposed by the Chief Justice, the Deputy Chief Justice and Justice Warsame,” he said.

Mr Njeru said the deliberations went on for more than three hours without the commission reaching a resolution, after which the CJ asked the meeting be adjourned to October 16.

“To the surprise of the commissioners, the Chief Justice on Friday by WhatsApp message sent at 17.30pm unilaterally cancelled the meeting scheduled for today (Friday). The commissioners’ protestations have fallen on deaf ears,” said Mr Njeru.

wmenya@ke.nationmedia.com