, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 3 – The Law Society of Kenya is calling on Kenyan churches to stop taking a hard-line stance on the draft constitution as it will derail Kenya’s efforts in the quest for a new set of laws.
Kenneth Akide who recently took over leadership of the lawyers’ organisation from Okong’o Omogeni said churches should not frustrate the entire constitution making process by taking rigid positions on issues such as Kadhis courts.
In an exclusive interview with Capital News, he said they should instead remain open minded and positively lead their flock in the review process.
“I want to urge Christians and their religious leaders to please move forward; embrace the Muslim brethren and accept that the Kadhis courts will be part of the new constitution. They have no harm and have never harmed the Christians; they have always been in the constitution anyway,” he said.
Mr Akide also said Kenyans should seize the country’s historical moment and take charge of enacting the ever elusive constitution.
“The constitution making process in this country has been one of the most lengthy in the history of this universe. We have spent 20 years debating it; we have spent money and we have run elections that have been disastrous because we have been unable to put in place a constitutional system that we believe in and can be a foundation for progress,” he said.
The LSK boss who noted that Kenyans were just about to cross a major hurdle towards their reform agenda also called on politicians to support the constitution saying this was not the time to start playing political games.
“Politicians should forget about their narrow ODM-PNU interests because they will divide the country. This time round we are just about to make it; the draft constitution seems just about right and we should move on to the next phase which is the referendum,” he said.
He also said the LSK would take stern disciplinary measures on errant members who colluded with members of the public and politicians to fraudulently acquire property. This he said would help instill public confidence in the society.
“Lawyers are frequently and routinely used as a medium through which corrupt deals are effected. I want to ask lawyers in this country to be vigilant and not to allow their accounts to be used as a mode of perpetrating crime. If a lawyer commits a crime they should be treated as any other citizen and be punished,” he said.
The newly elected LSK chairman who admitted that winning the election was no easy task further promised that lawyers under his leadership would be required to conduct pro bono work which would also foster public confidence.
“We want to encourage lawyers to take up additional work for people who are unable to access legal services which are very expensive in this country. Lawyers are henceforth going to undertake voluntary legal services on top of their normal commercial services. It will be some form of giving back to the public,” he said.
Mr Akide also said the LSK would introduce electronic voting so as to reduce and reform the long and time consuming voting process in the society which normally takes a year.
He was elected chairman on March 27 after beating Kisumu based lawyer James Mwamu and long serving Council member Evans Monari.
All practicing lawyers in the country are required to be members of the LSK where newly admitted lawyers pay a membership fee of about Sh10,000 per year while older and more experienced lawyers (those who’ve been practicing for more than 20 years) pay Sh20,000.