NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2 – Chief Justice David Maraga who in his interview for the role described himself as soft-spoken but not to one to be underestimated pulled no punches on Wednesday when he made it clear that the Judiciary would not take an assault on its independence, even from the highest office in the land, lying down.
Maraga who President Uhuru Kenyatta gave a public tongue-lashing a few weeks ago made it clear that the Judiciary would not “cower in the face of intimidation” and the Judicial Service Commission would defend judges against “unwarranted attacks.”
High Court judge George Odunga being the target of a sustained assault from the Jubilee Party which has at several press briefings claimed that he is compromised and should not be allowed to preside over election related matters.
They lay as basis for their claim, a relationship to National Super Alliance advocate James Orengo who has argued a number of election related petitions before him.
“The Judge and the Senator are, apart from their close family relationship, friends and visit each other often. The cases that the Judge has been presiding over relate to the run up to the General Election and it is not lost on any observer that Raila Odinga; Justice Odunga and Senator Orengo all hail from Siaya.”
Maraga however made it clear on Wednesday that Jubilee would not dictate who sits on which matters and went on to explain that the choice to recuse one’s self fell to the judge.
“We note with concern the audacity of the party as it seeks to select who hears the cases it files in court. The emerging culture of public lynching of judges and judicial officers by the political class is a vile affront to the rule of law and must be fiercely resisted.”
He named as among the offenders President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto, Opposition leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri and Leader of the Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale.