NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 22 – Appellate Court Judge David Maraga has been crowned as winner in the race for Chief Justice following the Judicial Service Commission’s decision to recommend him to President Uhuru Kenyatta for appointment.
JSC Secretary Atieno Amadi who is also the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary confirmed the nomination to Capital FM News.
Speaking from the Hemingways in Karen where the JSC held its final deliberations on the nomination, Commissioner Tom Ojienda said Maraga had emerged as the best man for the job out of the 11 that were interviewed.
“I will tell you that on all the fronts that we had, judge Maraga scored best and it is for that reason that the decision to nominate him as the candidate for the Commission was unanimous. We did not have to go back and forth on the pillars that were required by the Commission for nomination. Other interviewees also exhibited the traits that we’re looking for but in the end there was only room for the nomination of one candidate. He is the first among equals. He performed excellently well, he is material for Chief Justice. He stood out.”
The qualities the Commission was looking for Ojienda said, were: integrity and efficiency; a team player able to get the job done.
“We looked for an individual who has outstanding jurisprudence, who has integrity and has stood out among his peers. We looked for a candidate who will further the transformation agenda of the Judiciary and take the Judiciary to the next level. We’re looking for a candidate who will get judges, magistrates and judicial staff to get back to work and to ensure backlog is dealt with and the Judiciary is brought back to some form of delivering. A candidate who has ambassadorial traits. One who will be able to work with the other arms of government seamlessly while ensuring the independence of the Judiciary,” he said.
When he interviewed for the job of Chief Justice, Maraga addressed the question of backlog giving the example of the Kisumu Appellate Court, which he presides over, as an example in how cases are expeditiously dispensed with.
“I write judgments very fast and in Kisumu where I’m the Presiding Court of Appeal Judge, we apologise if court starts even 10 minutes late,” he told the JSC.
He also sold himself as a devout man who did not operate in grey areas: “Perhaps because of my style of life and the way I’ve carried myself, I have not had anybody try to influence me to do something. The only small incident I remember is when I was in Mombasa, a police officer comes to me and says ‘judge I want you to help me in this.’ I said ‘what are you talking about?’ In fact I called for his arrest.”
Subject to the approval of the approval of the National Assembly, President Uhuru Kenyatta has no option but to appoint him after the High Court termed unconstitutional an amendment that sought to have three names forwarded to the President for selection.
The JSC now gets to the job of interviewing candidates for the job of Deputy Chief Justice.
Justice Maraga was selected from a pool of 11 after two of those who applied bowed out.
He has triumphed over Supreme Court Judges Smokin Wanjala and Jackton Ojwang, fellow Appellate Court judges Alnashir Visram and Roselyn Nambuye, High Court judge Mbogholi Msagha, Constitutional expert, Nzamba Kitonga, Professor Makau Mutua, East African Court of Appeal judge Aaron Ringera, Principal Administrative Secretary in the Office of the Deputy President Daniel Wambura and Advocate Lucy Wanja.