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President Uhuru Kenyatta (centre) and Chief Justice Martha Koome (right) pose for a photo with newly appointed Court of Appeal Judges after their oath of office at State House, Nairobi on June 4, 2021. /PSCU.

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I have intelligence on the 6 judges-Uhuru

NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 4 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has defended his decision to omit six judges from the list of nominees presented to him.

President Kenyatta said his decision was based on intelligence reports on the judges he omitted on his list when he appointed 34 judges on Thursday.

“Just like the judges, I too took an oath. It is not open to me to turn a blind eye to reports of our State organs. As long as I serve as President, I will choose right over the convenient, choose the hard over the easy. I am not doing this for myself but for the people of Kenya and for posterity.” he said Friday when he witnessed the swearing-in of the new Judges at State House but did not provide more details on the intelligence received about the six judges.

The Judicial Service Commission had recommended the appointment of 41 judges in 2019 but the president did not make the appointments until Thursday, when he omitted six of them including Justice George Odunga and Joel Ngugi who were to be elevated to the Appellate Court.

Chief Justice Martha Koome who was also at State House for the swearing-in later issued a statement urging the president to appoint the remaining six judges.

“We call upon H.E. the President to similarly appoint the remaining 6 Judges because the Judiciary is still in dire need as the backlog of cases is increasing. We should find a lasting solution so that moving forward, this kind of delay and misunderstanding will be a thing of the past,” she said  in a statement.

She also reminded the president that he has no option of cherry-picking judges from a list presented to him by the JSC.

“Respect for the rule of law and the independence of the Judiciary is guaranteed under the Constitution. No person or authority is allowed to direct the JSC or the Judiciary in the execution of their mandate,” she said, heeding to calls from the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and activists who urged her to stand firm and defend the Constitution.

7 Judges of the Court of Appeal, 9 Judges of the Employment and Labor and Relations Court and 18 Judges of the Environment and Land Court all took the oath of office which was administered by the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi.

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Missing from the list were Justices Odunga and Prof Ngugi, who were part of the 5 Judge-bench that declared the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) null and void, in a historic ruling that has drawn appeals including from the president himself who accused the judges of robbing Kenyans their will.

Others are High Court Judges Weldon Korir and Aggrey Muchelule, Chief Magistrate Makori Evans Kiago and High Court Registrar Judith Omange.

President Kenyatta challenged the new Judges to serve with integrity and always uphold the Constitution.

“Mine is to ask you to serve the people of Kenya with unfailing integrity and commitment that your actions and decisions be guided slowly on unbiased and faithful application of the Constitution and our written laws our principles and values as a nation and the overriding interest of justice,” he said.

He reminded the Judges that it is imperative that they should always uphold the Constitution at all times while executing their mandate.

“Having taken your oath of office know that you now hold a special place in our constitutional order and therefore my only advise to you is to serve with dedication and with utmost fidelity to the oath that you have subscribed to. You are the bastions of justice, defenders of liberty, instruments of law and order, guardians of the rule of law and the embodiment of the hopes and dreams of our people,” he said.

The swearing-in of the judges took place on the day Katiba Institute filed a petition seeking to stop the ceremony with others planning to file more suits next week.

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