Top legal minds line up to take over Chief Justice job

Supreme Court Judge Njoki Ndung'u, former Attorney-General Githu Muigai and Justice Isaac Lenaola

From left: Supreme Court Judge Njoki Ndung'u, former Attorney-General Githu Muigai and Justice Isaac Lenaola.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Judges of the Court of Appeal, High Court and advocates in the academia, civil societies, corporations, and prosecutors can apply for the job should they fulfil the set out qualifications.
  • Justice Mwilu and Justice Njoki Ndung’u are the only women at the Supreme Court.

Names of top judges and senior lawyers jostling to succeed Mr David Maraga as Chief Justice are being floated as the Judicial Service Commission next month starts the process to recruit his successor in what is billed as a high stakes race. 

Among top contenders is former Attorney-General Githu Muigai, Supreme Court judges Njoki Ndung'u, Isaac Lenaola, Mohammed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala and the deputy chief justice Philomena Mwilu. 

Others are senior counsels Fred Ojiambo and Ahmednassir Abdullahi, Prof Makau Mutua and Justice William Ouko who is the current President of the Court of Appeal. 

Prof Muigai, the 60-year-old graduate of University of Nairobi and Columbia University School of law served as AG from August 2011 to February 13, 2018 when he resigned. His also served in the defunct Constitution of Kenya Review Commission.

Justice Mwilu, an insider who is facing ouster petitions over allegations of gross misconduct, together with Justice Njoki Ndung’u are the only women at the Supreme Court.

Justice Smokin Wanjala is also another insider being looked as a potential successor. He holds a Master of Laws from Columbia University, New York and a Doctorate in Law from the University of Ghent, Belgium.

Justice Wanjala has participated in major research projects leading to the compilation and production of seminal reports such as The Anatomy of Corruption in Kenya, the Governance, Justice, Law and Order for Kenya (GJLOS 2) and the Policy and Governance Framework for the Republic of Malawi.

His colleague Justice Isaac Lenaola, who is President of the Advisory Council of Strathmore Institute for Advanced Studies in International Criminal Justice, is likely to be in the race. 

“Outsiders like Ahmednassir Abdullahi and Prof Makau Mutua are suitable. Ahmednassir is fearless and intelligent,” Prof Tom Ojienda said.  

Judges of the Court of Appeal, High Court and advocates in the academia, civil societies, corporations, and prosecutors can also apply for the job should they fulfil the set out qualifications.

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