BY STANDARD REPORTER
In the fate that befell suspended Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza one thing stood out – the reality of Kenya’s changed constitutional order and higher level of integrity expected of public officials.
So devastating to Baraza must have been the ruling, not only because it has taken away from her one of Kenya’s most prestigious and well-paying jobs, with a guaranteed 10-year term and security of tenure. But it has also dealt a blow to her standing as a defender of human rights, especially of the vulnerable such as women.
That could explain why by nightfall Tuesday, the suspended judge known never to shy away on a public matter of this magnitude in which she is involved had taken refuge in silence. She kept Kenyans guessing whether she would appeal or walk away from the public limelight.
“We have done our work and now must wait for further instructions from our client. That is what lawyers do,” said Baraza’s Counsel Kioko Kilukumi.
Lawyer Peter Kaluma, who has represented the DCJ since the case began last year, said it is only her client who would decide the way forward.
“We are still consulting, and it is only the client who will make the final decision,” said Kaluma.
The Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Gladys Shollei told The Standard Baraza still had time to appeal. “The DCJ still has 10 days within to appeal. If she does, the process would go on to its conclusion,” she added.
However, Ms Shollei, who is also the secretary to Judicial Service Commission, explained in the event she does not appeal within the 10-day period set out by the Constitution and the President acts on the recommendation of the tribunal and removes her from the Bench, then JSC will fill the positions.
“As things stand now the Supreme Court where the DCJ also sits, has five of seven judges. The quorum is five,” she said.
The drama that played out publicly – patterned along the lines of Biblical David and Goliath’s story – where a guard at a mall fell a vice-president of the Supreme Court, also exposed how limited Baraza’s options are. On the one hand is the demand for prosecution by the guard, Rebecca Kerubo. On the other, is the Director of Public Prosecutions Keriaoko Tobiko’s start of a process that could see Baraza charged with a criminal offence over her conduct at the mall in December last year.