NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 19 – Appellate Court Judge David Kenani Maraga is likely to be sworn-in as Chief Justice on Wednesday after the National Assembly approved his nomination.
Committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi), Minority Leader Francis Nyenze (Kitui West) and Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay) kicked off the debate by pouring accolades on the CJ-Designate as a man of integrity and a man whose credentials are unquestioned.
“The candidate exhibited impressive knowledge of topical issues including demonstrated understanding of administration and management principles required to address the challenges facing the Judiciary,” Chepkonga said in the report.
“Justice Maraga needs our support. Even though the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary are independent they can still work together. We want Justice Maraga to finish what his predecessor started in taking justice to the people,” added Nyenze.
Moses Cheboi (Kuresoi North) backed the CJ nominee because he would work towards reducing the friction between the Judiciary and other arms of government.
MPs Iringo Kubai (Igembe Central) and Richard Momoima (Kitutu Chache) said they have known Justice Magara as a principled man who has also been described by his peers and colleagues as being beyond reproach.
“I have served with Justice David Maraga in a church board for more than 20 years and he is an honest man,” said the Kitutu Chache MP
House Majority Leaders Aden Duale urged Justice Maraga to improve the relationship between the three arms of the government and also unite the Judiciary.
“We will give Justice Maraga a scorecard of his first 100 days in office, if we don’t see anything we deal with his budget. It cannot be that when the Legislature moves this way, you want to move the opposite (direction), the three arms of government must work together. We want him to fundamentally offer a different leadership from that which was offered by his predecessor,” said the Majority Leader.
Maraga will become Kenya’s second Chief Justice under the 2010 Constitution, taking over from Dr Willy Mutunga who retired as Chief Justice on June 16.
Duale told MPs that the President will swear in Justice Maraga, who will in turn preside over the swearing in of nine nominees to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Selection Panel that will pick seven commissioners to the IEBC.
Minority Deputy Whip Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini) said the Committee had gone through the curriculum vitae of the nominee and was “overwhelmingly unanimous” about his ability to serve the country in as head of the Judiciary and President of the Supreme Court.
He rallied MPs to support the nominee saying Justice Maraga respects independence of Legislature and understands the work of Judiciary is to interpret the law.
“I have seen humility in Justice David Maraga and that means we can work in a non-antagonistic way with the Judiciary. We respect him because of his values,” he said.
James Nyikal (Seme) supported the House team decision to throw out three petitions objecting Justice Maraga’s appointment citing lack of merit.
He also pointed out that the incoming CJ is a family man whose moral values will not be eroded
“Maraga’s views on corruption are mild. He also has reservations on views that he should be firm on as a leader at this level,” he said.
Legislators adjourned House business early to give way to a Special Sitting in order to beat a midnight deadline to approve or reject the report, failing which, Justice Maraga will have been deemed approved by Parliament.
MPs Rose Nyamunga (Kisumu County), Patrick ole Ntutu (Narok West), Richard Momoima (Kitutu Chache) said they are confident that Maraga is bringing a transformative agenda to the judiciary.
Nyamunga said she would him to spread changes he initiated in Naivasha and Kisumu to other parts of the country so that people can be treated humanely.
Ntutu congratulated Justice Maraga saying that he has been successful in clearing case backlogs at any court station that he has been posted.
Duale and Chepkonga issued a devastating indictment of Chief Justice Willy Mutunga’s leadership of the Judiciary, accusing him of failing to assert himself despite coming into office with high public confidence.
The MPs urged Maraga to break from style set by his predecessor that while Mutunga offered many “lyrical” speeches promising reform, few tangible steps were taken to back up the pledges.