NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 5 – Attorney General Githu Muigai says Chief Justice Willy Mutunga can swear Mumo Matemu into office and still preside over a case filed at the Supreme Court challenging his appointment to the Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC).
While dismissing conflict of interest concerns on Monday, Muigai said that the CJ was well within his duties because there was a clear distinction between his administrative and judicial functions.
He maintained that the Chief Justice would discharge both functions diligently and the determination of the case would be free and fair.
The CJ’s ability to remain impartial came into question when it emerged that he would swear in Matemu into office and also sit on a bench that will determine whether or not the EACC boss is fit for office.
“There is a very clear constitutional distinction when the Chief Justice of Kenya acts in a judicial capacity and when he acts in an administrative one,” explained Muigai.
“Chairman Matemu’s swearing in is an administrative function. If there is an appeal to the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice will sit as a justice of the Supreme Court.”
Although Mutunga was present, he declined to comment and instead asked Muigai to respond on his behalf.
“Every person who works for the public are clients of the Attorney General’s chambers so I’m happy to hold the Chief Justice’s brief,” argued Muigai.
Matemu also declined to comment on the apparent conflict of interest instead asking Kenyans to respect court processes.
Former Imenti Central Member of Parliament Gitobu Imanyara had tweeted concerns over Matemu’s swearing-in.
“The intended appeal to the Supreme Court will be heard by a Supreme Court presided by Mutunga if filed. Should he swear Matemu to office?” asked Imanyara.
His bid to head the war against graft was marred by a court battle after a lobby group went to the High Court to block his appointment last year citing integrity concerns.
The High Court nullified his appointment but Matemu moved to the Court of Appeal which then overturned the High Court’s decision saying there was insufficient proof to back Matemu’s lack of integrity claims.
However the same lobby group, The Trusted Society of Human Rights Alliance has moved to the Supreme Court to nullify the Court of Appeal’s decision.
“Someone asked me if I was aware that as I took the position to fight against corruption there were people who would join me in that fight but that there were others who would be engaged in the fight against the fight,” explained Matemu.
“I will ask Kenyans to respect the judicial process like I did and join me in the fight.”
Matemu promised to lead the battle against corruption from the front admitting that it would not be easy.