NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 4 – 34 new Judges appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta took the oath of office Friday, despite uproar by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and several lobby groups.
The judges took oath at a ceremony witnessed by President Kenyatta, Chief Justice Martha Koome, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki among others.
On Tuesday, lobby group, Katiba Institute filed a petition at the High Court contesting the appointment of the 34 Judges and the omission of 6 others by President Uhuru Kenyatta. It sought orders to block their swearin in.
In its application, the lobby said the swearing-in of the 34 Judges will violate the constitution as well as the rights of the remaining six and wants it stopped pending the appointment of all.
Among those who were left out include Justices George Odunga and Prof Joel 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.
The lobby group now argues that the President has no powers to decide who to appoint or not after recommendations from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
They also want Attorney General Paul Kihara to be found unfit to hold office for misadvising the President, yet he sat in the JSC when the 41 Judges were interviewed.
Meanwhile, the Law Society of Kenya has condemned the move by the President, saying he has contravened Article 166 of the Constitution and an existing court order.
“The Council is concerned and condemns the failure by the President of the Republic of Kenya to appoint all the Judges as required under Article 166 of the Constitution. This is an outright contravention of the Constitution of Kenya, a blatant disregard of the Rule of Law and undermines the independence of the Judiciary. We wish to remind the President that the Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic and binds all persons and all State organs at both levels of government. Further, that all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with the Constitution,” LSK Chief Executive Officer Mercy Wambua said in a statement to newsrooms.
LSK further expressed concerns over the continued attack on the Judiciary, citing the June 1 remarks by the President, where expressed his disappointment by courts for declaring the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) null and void.