, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 2 – Ending days of speculation, Sharad Rao was finally sworn-in as chairman of the tribunal formed to probe Supreme Court Judge Philip Tunoi, on Wednesday.
Rao and five members of his team; Justice Roselyn Korir, Judith Guserwa, James Gacoka, Abdirashid Hussein and George Wakukha were sworn-in at the Supreme Court building at a ceremony presided over by Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Solicitor General Njee Muturi.
- Article 168(5) states that the President "shall appoint a tribunal consisting of chairperson and three other members from among persons who hold or have held office as a judge of a superior court, or who are qualified to be appointed as such."
The seventh and final member of the tribunal, Jonathan Bowen Havelock, Muturi said, would be sworn-in on Thursday.
There was uncertainty surrounding Rao’s appointment as chairman after the Executive sent mixed messages on the matter.
Principal Administrative Secretary in the Office of the President Kennedy Kihara on Sunday said Rao had been replaced by Havelock as chairman but Muturi was adamant at the swearing-in that there had been no “flip-flopping” and that Rao had always been President Uhuru Kenyatta’s choice.
“After we gazetted Rao’s appointment as chairman there have been no subsequent gazette notices.”
He said the Presidency was confident in Rao’s ability to chair the tribunal and said concerns over his age were baseless.
“Why didn’t those who choose to litigate over the Internet have an issue when he was vetting judges? he’s doing more of the same in this instance,” he said.
Lawyers Ahmednasir Abdullahi and Gitobu Imanyara opposed the appointment of Rao as the tribunal chairman on the grounds that he does not meet the specifications set out in the Constitution.
Article 168(5) states that the President “shall appoint a tribunal consisting of chairperson and three other members from among persons who hold or have held office as a judge of a superior court, or who are qualified to be appointed as such.”
Requirements those opposed to Rao’s chairmanship argue he has not met.
“Rao is not a judge or former judge and since he is over 70-years-old, he is ineligible for appointment as a judge,” Imanyara opined.
During Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony, Rao thanked President Kenyatta for sticking by him and swore to “faithfully execute” the duties of chairman.
Muturi also dismissed reports by a TV station that Havelock had declined to take up the position of chairman on claims of a Sh8 million debt owed to him by the government.