, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 18 – Deputy President William Ruto has poured cold water on an emerging storm between the Executive and the Judiciary, days after Attorney General Kihara Kariuki challenged the courts to ensure timely conclusion of corruption cases.
Ruto, who spoke during the funeral of Prof Abel Mugenda, husband to Judicial Service Commission member Olive Mugenda, said the government had confidence in the judicial arm urging courts to discharge their mandate independently and in accordance with the law.
“I want the Chief Justice to know that we’ve confidence in the judicial Arm of Government and it is the expectation of all Kenyans that the Judiciary will discharge their responsibilities in accordance with the mandate given to them in the Constitution,” the DP said at the funeral on Friday at Thogoto Teachers College, in Kiambu.
Chief Justice David Maraga who was present at the funeral had on Monday dismissed claims of laxity within the Judiciary after AG Kihara said the courts were taking too long to conclude some cases.
“We want to assure you that the Judiciary will continue to do its part but let me say we’ll not allow you to use the Judiciary as the scapegoat. If you bring a hopeless case, we’ll say in our judgment why we’re dismissing it,” a firm Maraga declared Monday.
Kihara who spoke when he attended the swearing-in of new Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) Chief Executive Officer Twalib Mbarak, a ceremony presided over by Maraga, had said the autonomy of the judicial branch should not be used as a justification for impunity.
“The Judiciary, while it is independent, that autonomy can be no substitute for either impunity or not doing what is right. You must help us to ensure these cases are concluded in a timely manner,” the AG had pointed out in his address.
CJ Maraga has insisted that the war on graft will be conducted within the framework of the Constitution and must adhere to the latter, to the rule of law.
He said on Monday the public was especially keen on the unfolding events as far as fighting corruption was concerned adding the masses can tell when cases are dismissed due to shoddy investigations.
The remarks by the AG on Monday were seen as a resurgence of hostilities between key government agencies tasked with investigation and prosecution of corruption cases and the judiciary.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has in the past decried what he has termed as ridiculous bail terms on which corruption suspects have been set free by the court.
In his Jamhuri Day speech on December 12 last year, Kenyatta said come bail terms advanced to suspects were derailing the war on corruption.
“These individuals (suspects) deserve fair trials but nothing more. I am again calling for the Judiciary to ensure that its procedures are not used to protect impunity,” he said during the 55th independence anniversary.
Kenyatta has made deliberate efforts to upscale the war against corruption with improved allocations for agencies such as the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), bureaus that are leading the charge against corruption.
In the Sh3 trillion 2018/19 budget for instance, DCI was allocated Sh 6.4 billion, with ODPP getting an allocation of Sh 2.9 billion. ODPP had been allotted Sh 2.3 billion in the previous year.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich had said during budget presentation the increased funding was to support the war against corruption.
“These measures are aimed at strengthening multi-agency teams involved in the war against corruption,” he said in July.
The Office of the Attorney General was allocated Sh5.1 billion, with funding for the Financial Reporting Centre increased to Sh587 million up from Sh300 million in the 2017-2018 budget.
Funding for the Judiciary and EACC, was however slashed to Sh15.2 billion and Sh2.9 billion respectively, the two having been allocated Sh18 and Sh4 billion respectively in the 2017/18 budget.
The Judiciary vehemently condemned the move saying most of its operations would stall.
The move also sparked debate on the isolation of the EACC in the fight against corruption with the purge seen to be largely driven by the DCI and DPP.
The Monday installation of Mbarak, a former military intelligence officer to head the EACC was seen as a step towards reinvigorating the agency that has been seen as having taken a back seat in the anti-corruption purge.