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Lawyer seeks legal interpretation on lawmakers’ appearance in court as advocates

Ogolla (pictured) explained that he will be seeking an interpretation form the constitutional and human rights division of the High Court on whether lawmakers with a legal professional background are violating the principle of comity, which requires organs of government to work to complement each other, not undermine each other/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 12 – City lawyer Steve Ogolla wants the High Court to give a legal interpretation of whether Members of Parliament can continue practicing law while still in office.

Speaking to Capital FM News on Friday, Ogolla explained that he will be seeking an interpretation form the constitutional and human rights division of the High Court on whether lawmakers with a legal professional background are violating the principle of comity, which requires organs of government to work to complement each other, not undermine each other.

“When you have Senators like Kipchumba Murkomen and Mutula Kilonzo Junior, going to undermine the Director of Public Prosecution’s work in court, when he is in the middle of the executing his mandate, they are interfering with the requirement of the constitution on harmonious cooperation, interdependence, respect for each other during the function of the each organ’s mandate,” he said.

He said the MPs ought to execute political accountability and allow the judiciary and the DPP to the execute his mandate of criminal liability.

“We want the High Court to pronounce itself. You do not require the High Court to tell you what respect is, this is a matter of common sense but because the lawmakers have made it an issue, we will have to involve the courts.

“The Constitution presupposes that you will understand what respect all is about. An MP is defined as a State officer, as a matter of fact they should be supporting the implementation of the constitution by respecting other independent organs, so they must step away because it not a question of what if, it is not a matter of the position. It is a matter of principle,” he said.

Ogolla faulted the precedent set by the ruling in Deputy Chief Justice Philemona Mwilu’s case where Senators James Orengo and Okongo Omogeni formed part of the defence counsel.

He said the court did not interpret the meaning of comity between the two offices.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday instructed Attorney General Kihara Kariuki to expedite and submit the Conflict of Interest Bill to Cabinet for approval as the government moves to bar State and public officers from engaging in private practice while serving in government.

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In his speech during the 56th Jamhuri Day Celebrations, the President said once the law is enacted public and State officials including Members of Parliaments will be required to cease their professional engagement in private practice in order to take up their public or State positions.

“State and public officers are not above law. Our constitutional order is a jealous one; it demands that state and public officers serve no other master but it.”

“One cannot serve as a legislator at the National or County Level while at the same time practicing law, whether or not for gain,” the Head of State stressed.

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