, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 7 – The Judicial Service Commission on Wednesday tasked the Principal Administrative Secretary in the Office of the Deputy President, Ambassador Daniel Waisiko Wambura, with convincing them why they should entrust him with the highest office in the Judiciary given the poor track record of the disbanded Electoral Commission of Kenya of which he was a part.
Describing it as a poor track record might be putting it mildly given the hundreds that lost their lives in the aftermath of the disputed polls and it’s this sentiment that the JSC exuded when it demanded to know why Wambura would even contemplate casting his hat in the ring for the job of Chief Justice with what they considered a stain, on his professional history.
They also didn’t appear to find him satisfactorily remorseful for the bloodiest post-election violence in Kenya’s history.
“Much as you reluctantly take collective responsibility for what happened post 2007, you are saying in the areas that you were Commissioner, supervising elections, there were not many problems. Now you want to come in to head the institution of the judiciary… Why shouldn’t you take responsibility for the failings of the Commission and why then should we reward you by brining you to the Judiciary to head?” Commissioner Emily Ominde put to him.
This led Ambassador Wambura who described the events as, “most unfortunate,” to put to her:
“It’s not the Electoral Commission that is applying for this job. It’s me as a person… The ECK is not here. It is me.”
And to which she replied: “Can there be systems without persons? Can there be a judiciary without judges and magistrates?”
An exchange whose theme and tone were echoed when Ominde’s superiors on the bench, High Court judge Aggrey Muchelule and Appellate court judge Mohamed Warsame took their turns at questioning the Ambassador.
Wambura had blamed the, “bungled,” polls in the estimation of the Commission, on, “systems failures.”
He said: “There was nothing in particular against Comissioner Wambura… It’s not that you are not a pilot. It’s just because the circumstances… It could be where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean and the currents are too heavy for the vessel.”
He had himself, he told the Commission, paid a heavy price for the, “unconstitutional,” manner in which the ECK had been disbanded.
“When the Commission was disbanded in 2008 I stayed out of job for a full year (sic)… All the conditions of not having a job were seriously operating on me… The manner in which the disbandment took place, I think some of us were recovering from certain levels of trauma.
“Everything that period was being blamed on the Commission and that kind of mental torture where some of us who pray we went into fasting and praying, those who go for counselling to retain sanity and some others just deteriorated and finally they have gone.”
Attorney General Githu Muigai was however not convinced that Wambura has what it takes to steer the vessel that is the judiciary given his lack of court room experience in the two decades since admission onto the roll of advocates.
Wambura who could be described as a career technocrat, having also served as a legal officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was however adamant that he was intimately acquainted with the law and well able to pilot the Judiciary despite not submitting writing samples to the commission on the grounds that the advisory opinions he’d written for government were confidential.
Muchelule, Ominde and Commissioner Mercy Deche also took issue with his failure to submit wealth declaration forms as had been required.