NAIROBI, Kenya, May 15 – Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Allen Gichuhi has defended his move to disband the society’s 13-member Executive Council social media forum citing disrespect and “repeated insults” from a member.
Gichuhi told Capital FM News on Wednesday the member incessantly undermined his authority despite being warned.
“I disbanded the Council WhatsApp chat group after this particular Council member engaged in repeated insults despite my warning that the group would be disbanded if this continued. Council resolutions are made at Council meetings and not on WhatsApp,” he said in a brief response.
Gichuhi said he will not be cowed into silence by a section of LSK members determined to undermine his authority.
“I have said it several times that I am a stickler for the Rule of Law and protection of the Constitution. As a practitioner and professional I will never bend the Rules to please anyone,” he remarked.
Reports over divisions in the council emerged soon after the LSK President notified President Uhuru Kenyatta of Macharia Njeru’s election as the male representative to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) for a five-year term.
The submission of Njeru’s name for appointment as member of the JSC angered a council member who told off Gichuhi accusing him of running a one-man show.
“For the record, we are not your bridal party or stooges!” the member remarked shortly before the chat room was deleted.
Njeru who is due to be sworn in by Chief Justice David Maraga Wednesday morning beat Prof Tom Ojienda after garnering 2,738 votes against Ojienda’s 2,545 across 28 polling centers nationwide.
The election which was held last week has been described as the most divisive in the history of the LSK.
The emerging storm has threatened to tear the society apart with disgruntled members threatening to formally register a rival association of practicing lawyers.
The differences became particularly pronounced after a slim majority voted to scrap some pre-qualification requirements for members seeking to be elected as LSK representatives in the JSC ostensibly to secure Ojienda’s candidature.
The 2019 delegates’ conference reviewed a statutory provision requiring candidates for the JSC to seek clearance from Higher Education Loans Board and the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
KRA had declined to issue Ojienda with a tax compliance certificate over a protracted tax dispute.
Under Article 171 (2) (f), advocates are entitled to two slots in the JSC, positions that have in the recent past attracted cutthroat competition.
Njeru will be sworn in alongside Justice David Majanja who was elected unopposed by Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association.
Attorney General Kihara Kariuki replaced his predecessor Githu Muigai at JSC in November last year with three other newly appointed members – former National Assembly Clerk Patrick Gichohi, ex-Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei, and former Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor Olive Mugenda.
The three took over slots left vacant by Public Service Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia, Kipng’etich arap Korir and Winifred Guchu (Chief Administrative Secretary – Ministry of Water).
Other members of the Commission are CJ Maraga (Chairperson), Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu (Supreme Court representative), Emily Ominde (Magistrate Court), and Mercy Deche (LSK female representative).