BY UHURU KENYATTA
On 14th November, the National Assembly in accordance with Article 251(3) of our Constitution forwarded a petition to me requesting the suspension and formation of a tribunal to investigate the conduct of six Judicial Service Commissioners.
Article 251(4) (b) mandates the President to form a tribunal. The provision is couched in mandatory terms and therefore there is no room for discretion other than to form a tribunal. I, therefore, have no choice but to follow the dictates of the law. Failure to do so will set a bad precedent for the country.
The two -week hiatus between the receipt of the Petition and the formation of the Tribunal was for me to understand and mediate the perceived conflict between the National Assembly and the Judiciary. It is for this reason that I called for the tripartite meeting with the Hon. Chief Justice and the Hon. Speaker of the National Assembly. I have met both of them and I am happy to state that the three arms of Government are working in harmony within the confines of the Constitution.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Judiciary has made great strides in its reform agenda and indeed Kenyans have seen a transformation of the institution under the Constitution enacted in 2010. This is no mean achievement. It is, however, recognized that even the agenda for reform has its challenges and the recent events that surround investigation into the Judicial Service Commission, is but one of these. This investigation is a cloud on the bright future of the Judiciary and must be resolved one way or another.
I wish to assure the public that I have been advised that an investigation into the Commission will in no way interfere with the independent operations of the Judiciary which according to Article 161 consists of the judges of the superior courts, magistrates, other judicial officers and staff. These are the Kenyans responsible for the hearing and dispensing cases in the courts across the country. The Petition that was forwarded to me to investigate the Judicial Service Commission, therefore, has nothing to do with the independent workings of the Judiciary, itself.
The Judicial Service Commission is an independent Commission established by Article 171 composed of part-time Commissioners whose main mandate is to recommend for recruitment of judges, recruitment and discipline of staff. The allegations of financial interference and obstruction of justice are serious in nature and therefore require investigations by an independent and impartial tribunal. The Commissioners concerned must rightly also have the opportunity to clear their names if possible, over allegations now in the public domain, so that the Commission can continue with no aspersions on its character and regain the full confidence of Kenyans.
I, therefore, hereby suspend Commissioners Prof. Christine Mango, Ahmednassir Abdulahi, Hon. Justice Mohamed Warsame, Emily Ominde, Reverend Samuel Kobia and Florence Mwangangi and form a tribunal to investigate their conduct as per the petition from the National Assembly. The members of the tribunal are as follows:-
Hon(rtd) justice Aaron Ringera
I ask that the Tribunal work to complete its task fairly and expeditiously so that the Commission and indeed the entire Government can continue the work necessary to deliver justice to all Kenyans without compromise.
Fellow Kenyans I wish to reiterate that the suspension of the six members of the Judicial Service Commission will not hamper the administration of justice in the country. Judges and magistrates will continue dispensing justice within courtrooms. No Kenyan will be turned away as a result of today’s action.
UHURU KENYATTA, C.G.H.,
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA
29th November, 2013