BY WAHOME THUKU
Praised as impartial and immune to corruption, Justice Mohammed Ibrahim was dropped for having an overflowing in-tray of cases after a last-minute attempt to save his job failed.
Also brought down Friday by the Vetting of Judges and Magistrates Board was yet another Court of Appeal judge. Four appellate court judges sacked in April also learned that the decisions to remove them would not be reviewed.
Supreme Court judge Ibrahim and appellate judge Roselyn Nambuye were both kicked out Friday, less than a year after their promotion to their positions. The vetting board cited delays in delivering more than 270 judgements and rulings as the reason they lost their jobs. The delays, the board said, had led to loss of public confidence in the Judiciary, which has a backlog of cases.
Justices Riaga Omolo, Samuel Bosire, Emmanuel O’Kubasu, and Joseph Nyamu had contested their removal and applied for review of the determination.
The dismissal with finality of their applications means the four stand retired, as the vetting board’s decisions cannot be challenged in court. It also clears the way for the Judicial Service Commission to fill the vacant positions. The Constitution requires that the Court of Appeal have a minimum of 12 judges.
Justice Ibrahim was the first to be sent home Friday morning over delays in delivering 264 rulings and judgements. Some date back nine years. The vetting board appreciated his strengths as a judge, but explained the backlog of cases was unacceptable because it was an obstacle to swift justice.
“The finding of unsuitability was not based on even a hint of corruption or on considerations of lack of impartiality,” said vetting board chairman Sharad Rao.
“By all accounts he has shown himself to be a sensitive, warm, intelligent, and fair-minded judge… The delays (in the 264 cases, however,) were unacceptable, carried like a hump on a camel’s back from one post to the next. Hundreds of litigants felt robbed of their right to have their cases finally determined.”
The sacking of Ibrahim dealt a second blow to the Supreme Court following the suspension of Deputy CJ Nancy Baraza. The court now has five judges, which is the minimum allowed by the Constitution to constitute a Bench to hear cases.
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