NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 15 – A heated exchange between superior court judges Mohamed Warsame and Jackton Ojwang marked the last day of interviews for the position of Chief Justice that commenced three weeks ago.
Justice Ojwang did not take too kindly to what he considered badgering by the Appellate Court judge who demanded to know why the apex court judge had earlier in his interview for Chief Justice denied that there had indeed been a strike by a faction of Supreme Court judges of which he was a part.
He also demanded to know why the judge shrugged off a finding by the Judicial Service Commission that it qualified as misconduct.
WARSAME: You are responding to an earlier letter written by two judges of the Supreme Court, is that not true?
OJWANG: I’m not saying no. Just go ahead and ask your question.
WARSAME: The letter was not addressed to you as Judge Ojwang but nevertheless you are saying ‘JSC has no supervisory powers over the conduct of judicial work and cannot determine how and when a judge does his/her judicial duty… As such, the Supreme Court must uphold the terms of the Constitution strictly. Any illegitimate interference with the work of the court or of its seven members will necessitate a moratorium on all of its judicial operations with immediate effect.’
OJWANG: Ok. Ask your question.
WARSAME: That is your words? (sic).
OJWANG: Ask your question.
WARSAME: What does the word moratorium mean to you?
OJWANG: You’re not being told that the services have been withdrawn… The threat is there so that you may deal with it. The crisis is created by you (JSC) because you are taking away its members. You are telling them don’t participate in this judgments. You (JSC) are subverting the Constitution. Please, I think you are asking questions you are not clear about. Ask something different… Ask straight. Don’t repeat yourself all the time.
WARSAME: There’s information that about 14 matters were withdrawn subsequently because of your withdrawal of services.
OJWANG: Not all matters which are listed are heard… finish and give me time to respond.
WARSAME: You were found culpable and found guilty of misconduct and reprimanded. Is that not true?
OJWANG: I was not given any hearing. No one heard me, no one spoke to me… I disagree with that decision completely. You did the wrong thing. It was wrong to do that.