NAIROBI, Kenya. Oct 2 – Attorney General Githu Muigai and Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa on Tuesday afternoon supported the decision by the Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board to ignore a court ruling that suspended the board from continuing with the vetting process.
Muigai said the Vetting Board is an independent body insulated from legal proceedings and all forms of interference, a fact that the court did not heed to.
He said: “On the face of the record and of the order issued by the court there was – it would appear to us – no specific reference to the constitutional provisions that exempt the board and its activities in the exercise of mandate from interference from any other body or authority including the court.”
The AG said that his office would move to court to have the order reviewed.
“We have therefore agreed that the office of the Attorney General as a defendant in the case and as a protector of the public interest in the Constitution will approach the court with a view to reviewing that order as expeditiously as possible,” he added.
The AG spoke following consultations with the chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution, the chair of the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee and the chairman of parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee.
The High Court last week suspended the board from continuing with the vetting process until a case challenging the removal of Supreme Court Judge Mohammed Ibrahim and Court of Appeal Judge Roselyn Nambuye is heard and determined.
The High Court Judges Mohammed Warsame and George Odunga granted the interim orders sought while Justice George Kimondo recorded a dissenting opinion following an application by the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, Richard Omanyala and Bishop Francis Oziova.
On Monday, the vetting board vowed to ignore a court order stopping it from continuing with the vetting process.
Board Chairman Sharad Rao told a news conference that the board is not bowed by decisions of the Judiciary but provisions of the constitution that has mandated it to vet judges.
“The board wishes to emphasise that it does not accept the Judiciary had jurisdiction to sit in judgement over its work. We have been given a mandate by the people of Kenya, through the Constitution, to see the vetting process through to speedy conclusion,” he said.
He went on further to clarify that the Constitution insulated the board from such interference, “the clear provisions of the Constitution were designed to prevent precisely the situation which has arisen, namely, that members of the Judiciary would seek to obstruct the very process in terms of which they were themselves to be vetted.”
THIS STORY WAS REPORTED BY OLIVE BURROWS