, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 22 – The National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee has ordered members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to appear before it next Thursday.
The committee’s chairman Samuel Chepkong’a told Capital FM News that each member of the commission has been summoned individually so none can claim ignorance.
The JSC postponed an appearance before the committee on Thursday morning explaining that they had been given too short a notice and would prefer a “mutually agreeable time.”
“We have sent summons to each and every one of them and told them that there are to avail themselves on August 29 at 10 am,” Chepkong’a said.
The committee did not take too kindly to the commission’s rebuff of their initial summons. “When we sit, we are conferred with the powers of the High Court and therefore what is convenient for them doesn’t enter into the equation,” Chepkong’a said.
He insisted that their summons was not intended in any way to infringe on the independence of the Judiciary and was done in fulfilment of its oversight role.
“The Constitution bestows on Parliament the responsibility of protecting the public’s interest and it’s in the public’s interest to know what intrigues may be hampering the reform of the Judiciary,” Chepkong’a defended.
When she appeared before the committee on Wednesday, the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Gladys Shollei accused three members of the JSC of abusing their powers in order to settle a personal score by sending her on compulsory leave.
Shollei accused the Law Society of Kenya’s representative to the commission, Ahmednasir Abdullahi of wanting to benefit from the acquisition of a property to house a Court of Appeal in Mombasa.
She also accused the Court of Appeal’s representative Mohammed Warsame of attempting to influence who was hired to the Judiciary. “One time he told me ‘you’ve never hired anybody for me, Mrs Ochieng used to hire 30 people for me whenever I wanted’.”
Chief Magistrate Emily Ominde was charged by Shollei of harbouring hostility toward her; “Right from day one when I joined the Judiciary she has fought me. There was even a time that I had to write a letter to her, copied it to the Chief Justice and told the Chief Justice (to) explain to commissioner Ominde my role vis-a-vis her role.”
“I also did indicate in that letter that you cannot instruct me as an individual commissioner. I get my instructions from a full JSC,” Shollei said.
Shollei’s revelations elicited strong reaction from Chepkong’a who had accused the commission of contravening the provisions of the Judicial Service Commission Act when it sent Shollei on compulsory leave.
“What they must know is that the members of the public have been very kind in the two days and they have submitted huge dossiers about the members of the Judicial Service Commission on the wrong doings that that they have committed in other places,” he said.
Kuresoi North Member of Parliament Moses Cheboi did however caution the committee chairman against passing judgment on the JSC before allowing them a chance to respond to the grave allegations made against them by Shollei.
And a number of the committee members took issue with the decision to summon Shollei before the JSC, arguing that it would have made more sense for them to question her after establishing exactly what charges she’s facing.