NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 25 – Justice National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eugene Wamalwa on Wednesday lauded the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board for taking a major step in restoring public confidence in the Judiciary.
Speaking after the Board dismissed Court of Appeal Judges Riaga Omolo, Samuel Bosire, Emmanuel O’Kubasu and Joseph Nyamu, he said it was important that Kenyans understand that the reform process will step on many toes in its quest to have public institutions enjoy the confidence of all Kenyans.
“Change has been a long time coming, but change is here today. We congratulate the board for the job they have done. This is yet another step we have taken to restore public confidence in this key institution, as we go ahead there will be collateral damage but we must make sure public confidence is restored,” he asserted.
Wamalwa also said the vetting process will spread out to other top government officers including the Executive and government ministers.
He further urged Kenyans to play their role as voters by electing people of integrity and sound capability to lead their regions in development.
“This vetting will not only be restricted to the Judiciary, all senior government officials including the Executive from now on will be subjected to serious vetting,” he asserted.
Law Society of Kenya Chairman Eric Mutua who also welcomed the decision of the Vetting Board urged relevant organisations to make contributions to the Board when called upon to do so.
“They should come out forcefully, they should come out without fear and make complains which are reasonable and based on facts so that the next phase judges can be looked at adequately by the Board. What has happened today ought to be a warning that Kenya is changing today,” he asserted.
Earlier, the chairman of the Vetting Board Sharad Rao complained that many organisations failed to respond to the letters of the Board asking for their views on the nine Appeal Judges vetted.
Mutua strongly advocated for vetting of all public officers saying the Judiciary should not be the only subjects of restoring public confidence in the Kenyan institutions.
Their sentiments were echoed by many Kenyans who termed the exercise as necessary in facilitating avenues for justice for all Kenyans: “I like this, radical surgery in its true sense! Let them go, they failed us when we needed them most.”
Other Kenyans urged the Vetting Board in its continuing exercise to root out other judges that have frustrated Kenyans either by failing to be impartial, accepting bribes especially by favouring those in power.
“We are now on the right path to restoring Mwananchi’s confidence in the Judiciary. I appreciate sincerity and would love for credible, reliable, honest, rational, objective, impartial and responsible Judges to scoop the job. The Panel is doing a great job and it is my prayer that they weed out all the bad seeds even if it means lifting out all. We have bright chaps in this country who are clean and can do the job perfectly well,” one of those interviewed commented.
Other Kenyans asked the government to also consider subjecting police to a similar process explaining that Kenyans had lost confidence in the police.
The vetting of the judges started on February 23 this year. It comprises nine members including local and international experts.
The board is mandated to vet Kenyan judges as one of the interventions of the country in the restoration of public confidence in the Judiciary which many Kenyans have over decades discredited.
Supreme Court Judges Jackton Ojwang and Mohammed Ibrahim will face the vetting board on Thursday and Friday respectively.
High Court Judges will be the next to have their competence, credibility and integrity tested by the vetting board.
Meanwhile, Capital FM News has learnt that the board will on Friday gazette the names of the four judges they found unfit to continue serving in the Judiciary, marking the end of their contracts.
They however have a right to seek a review by presenting new evidence to defend themselves against the conclusions of the board to the same Panel within seven days. The review will however be only in case of:
(a) on the discovery of a new and important matter which was not within the knowledge of, or could not be produced by the judge or magistrate at the time the determination or finding sought to be reviewed was made, provided that such lack of knowledge on the part of the judge or magistrate was not due to lack of due diligence; or
(b) on some mistake or error apparent on the face of the record.
The decision by the board under shall be final.