Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s failure to appoint six judges listed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has attracted the retired Chief Justice (CJ) Dr Willy Mutunga’s attention.
In the letter dated June 8, Dr. Mutunga urged the Head of State to appoint the six judges after failing to raise concerns on any shortlisted candidates to the hiring panel during the recruitment process in line with the constitution.
“The president must resist the temptation to be garlanded in the pettiness of preforming power, particularly by those who have built a thriving pettiness cottage industry, completely consumed by the pursuit of personal vendetta at the expense of national good,”
According to the former CJ, the President’s move to reject the names of the six judges was driven by personal resentment and not principle.
“The scientific formulation in the Constitution on the appointment of judges was intended to be an antidote to this kind of whimsical and capricious presidential conduct as is being seen in ugly display in this matter,” said Dr. Mutunga.
In the gazette notice dated June 3, President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed 34 out of 41 judges recommended by the judges’ and magistrates’ employer, JSC, in 2019. However, he rejected the six Judges claiming they did not meet the threshold.
The six judges left out are Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Weldon Korir, Aggrey Muchelule, Registrar of the High Court Evans Kiago, and Judith Omange. Judges Ngugi, Odunga, Korir, and Muchelule were to be elevated to the Court of Appeal.
There have been speculations that Odunga and Ngugi were not appointed following the role they played in nullifying the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2020, popularly known as Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). They were part of a five-Judge bench that halted the process saying it was unconstitutional.
Dr. Willy Mutunga further questioned why the President delayed in appointing the judges accusing him of breeding impunity.
The 34 appointed judges took an oath last week on Friday. A section of lawyers has rushed to court seeking an order to revoke the oath, saying it was unconstitutional and the act lowered the dignity of the remaining six.