Chaos as lawyers try to eject magistrate

August 12, 2008 12:00 am

, NAKURU, August 12 – There was chaos at the Nakuru Law Courts on Tuesday after lawyers stormed the Chief Magistrate’s chambers and attempted to eject her out of office.

More than 100 lawyers from the region led by the Law Society of Kenya – Rift Valley Chapter chairman Gordon Ogolla, staged a demonstration demanding the removal of the Chief Magistrate Margaret Karanja.

The lawyers claimed that the Chief Justice Evan Gicheru had ignored a petition that they’d sent him last week, calling for Karanja’s removal, amid accusations of laxity, high handedness and disrespect for litigants.

“Since she was posted here six months ago, she has never expeditiously dispensed even one matter leading to a backlog of cases and increased expenses to litigants,” Ogolla claimed.

When the lawyers began converging, Karanja who was conducting cases in her court dashed back to her chambers and locked herself in, as agitated lawyers frantically tried to gain access.

A contingent of anti-riot officers that was summoned from the nearby Central Police Station lobbed tear gas canisters into the chambers, sending the protesting lawyers scampering for safety.

Other courts hurriedly adjourned proceedings as heavily armed security men ushered magistrates to safety, while prison personnel guarding remand prisoners cocked their guns and cordoned off the premises.

By Tuesday afternoon, normal business at the law courts had not resumed as reliable accounts indicated that an urgent meeting of magistrates had been convened by the resident judge.

The lawyers, who were armed with a petition containing a raft of accusations against the Chief Magistrate, claimed that Karanja had influenced the interdiction of two magistrates and three court clerks following an abortive protest staged against her last week.

The Chief Magistrate declined to speak to members of the press at the venue, referring them to the Chief Justice.
The area OCPD confirmed that no arrests had been made following the incident but warned that police had launched investigations into the matter.

He however expressed disappointment that lawyers were exhibiting a bad example to other members of society.

“As responsible citizens and dignified members of the society we should present our grievances in a manner that is respectable and dignified. When we behave in a rowdy manner how do we expect the young generation to be disciplined?”



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