, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has suspended six Judicial Service Commissioners and formed a four-member Tribunal to investigate their conduct.
The explosive decision will see Commissioners Ahmednasir Abdullahi, Samuel Kobia, Christine Mango, Mohamed Warsame, Emily Ominde and Florence Mwangangi vacate their offices to pave way for investigations.
The tribunal will interestingly be led by retired Justice Aaron Ringera, who is remembered for the 2003 radical surgery in the Judiciary.
Other members who will probe the six Commissioners are Jennifer Shamallah, Ambrose Otieno Weda and Mutua Kilaka.
“I ask that the Tribunal work to complete its task fairly and expeditiously so that the Commission and indeed the entire Government can continue the work necessary to deliver justice to all Kenyans without compromise,” said Kenyatta through a statement.
“Fellow Kenyans I wish to reiterate that the suspension of the six members of the Judicial Service Commission will not hamper the administration of justice in the country. Judges and magistrates will continue dispensing justice within courtrooms. No Kenyan will be turned away as a result of today’s action.”
According to a gazette notice dated November 29, the mandate of the Tribunal shall be to investigate the alleged conduct of the said members of the Judicial Service Commission and determine whether it discloses grounds for removal of any or all of them from office under Article 251 (1) of the Constitution.
It is then expected to report on the facts and make its recommendations to the Head of State.
Kenyatta also said in a statement that he had met with both the Speaker of the National Assembly and Chief Justice Willy Mutunga before the decision was reached.
“The two-week hiatus between the receipt of the Petition and the formation of the Tribunal was for me to understand and mediate the perceived conflict between the National Assembly and the Judiciary,” he said.
The six Commissioners came to the spotlight following the sacking of Chief Registrar of the Judiciary, Gladys Boss Shollei.
Her being sent home exposed a lot of rot in the Judiciary including concerns of financial misappropriation and gross abuse of office.
Efforts by Parliament to probe the goings on at the Judiciary were futile with the Commissioners maintaining that the Judiciary was an independent arm of government and Parliament had no mandate whatsoever to investigate it.
The Commissioners ignored summons by the Legal Affairs Committee over the issue instead sending their legal representative Paul Muite to represent them.
“We had invited the Commissioners that were in the petition and so we do not intend to give him (Muite) a hearing because this was not a matter that was supposed to be delegated to any other person,” said Committee Chairman Samuel Chepkonga.
“This was a substantive issue; not a procedural issue. Muite will be informed that this committee does not intend to give him any audience.”
The Committee’s report was then tabled in Parliament with a verdict urging the President to form a tribunal against the JSC Commissioners.