By Kipkoech Tanui
I have nothing against Ms Nancy Baraza but I wish I could whisper into her ear that she just needs to exit quietly and honourably, that is if there is still a grain of the latter left. But first, I would have to grapple with the possible outcome of getting close to her ear without being pinched and scornfully warned I should know people!
I must now tell you I still believe Baraza is not just a smart head. The indelible footprints she has left in court corridors and academic isles have aptly demonstrated that. She is also an achiever, and getting appointed the Deputy Chief Justice and vice-president of Supreme Court was no mean achievement. It is indeed a lifetime accomplishment.
But surely should the kind of judge whose name or proximity evokes such ugly imagery, which is no different from that of a ruffian, not be kept as far away as possible from the country’s highest court, where apart from State House you get someone heading it with the title of “President?”
Now let me make a declaration; I agonised before settling on Baraza as the subject of my column today because she has in a way been the victim of a lynch mob. Not that what she did was right, but she has been sprawled on the ground for far too long and maybe all she needed was to be left to go into the privacy of her private practice and family.
But then she rose from the ground, where she literally wrestled herself thinking she was putting guard Rebecca Kerubo where she belongs; she just dusted herself and called for fresh round of tackling.
Once the tribunal dropped the bombshell on her, and she decided to challenge the ruling, which unmasked the sleazier side of her we would never have known, including interference with witnesses, dangling of money in Karura Forest to dissuade her complainant from pursuing justice, she invited more attention to herself. How she expects Kenyans to trust her with the interpretation of law and still be seen, as the icon of fairness and balance is unfathomable.
So because of the sensitivity of the offices she is fighting to cling onto, the credentials and character expected of a Judge, and her decision to get return to the ring, I think it is only fair that we put her under scrutiny again. We do not have to like her to do this; all we need is to respect and love our justice system more, which is what every patriot and respecter of justice should do.
So on this score Baraza ceases to be the private person we know as a friend, professional colleague, or even one we secretly admire. No! She is the person bestowed with the singular honour, which she flushed down the drain in an irrational outburst against Kerubo, of being our first Deputy President of the Supreme Court and the only woman ever to be Deputy Chief Justice.
She must be told that despite her fascination with the tablet of laws, there is something else called common sense which screams loudly that where her case has reached, it would be untenable for her to get back to her well-paying position at the top of the food chain called salary and social scales. I say so because there is a point in life, and I know my lawyer friends will wring my neck for saying so, where the law is subordinate to public perceptions.
The mere fact that it is now incontestable, as the tribunal chaired by former Tanzanian Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani concluded, that she confronted guard Rebecca Kerubo, probably pinched or poked her nose, and even threatened her with a gun, tells you that in her we could have a judge who is not able to control her temper, leave alone others’.
I do not want to say she is a victim of unstable mind because those of us who know her can attest she is good-natured, friendly and quite a professional and intellectual company . But what we may not have known is that there is, just like the social theory called ‘Johari Window’ teaches us, a window to her persona we had not seen, wherein lies a woman shaking with some undefined raging emotions that make her completely something else.
In fact, when some of us read the tribunal findings, you could discern one thing – the good Judge who is not prejudiced by the Kenyan habit of looking at all things through the lenses of tribe – is convinced this was not an isolated case.