Sharp divisions have emerged at the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) following a decision by the society's council to overrule a committee’s verdict on two candidates eyeing a Judicial Service Commission (JSC) slot.
The council is said to have gone against the nomination committee’s report forwarded to it on February 11 that disqualified lawyers Gathii Irungu and Tom Ojienda from contesting for LSK’s male slot in the JSC.
Some LSK members have warned that allowing the two to vie would not only be in contempt of Court of Appeal orders, but also against the Constitution.
Appellate Judges Martha Koome, Alice Murgor and Sankale ole Kantai had issued a ruling suspending a High Court decision that ordered Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to issue Ojienda with a tax compliance certificate.
“I have called for an emergency council meeting on Monday to review the decision on nomination of candidates and carry out proper vetting,” said LSK president Allen Gichuhi.
Gichuhi, who dismissed claims that the council members were compromised to clear Ojienda and Irungu, said he was ready to be investigated on the matter.
The nominations committee - comprised of Joyce Majiwa, former LSK President Kenneth Akide, Kameri Mbote, a representative from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and LSK secretariat - disqualified the two out of five candidates.
Lawyers Njeru Macharia, Alex Gatundu and Charles Ongoto submitted their nomination papers on time. Irungu was disqualified for failing to attach clearance certificates from relevant authorities to his nomination papers and submitting his documents out of time.
He did not have clearance from KRA, the Higher Education Loans Board, Credit Reference Bureau, the Director of Criminal Investigations and Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
Ojienda, who has been legally battling to be allowed to contest the seat, did not have a tax compliance certificate. He is seeking to retain the seat he has been holding since 2014.
When KRA declined to issue him with a clearance certificate last year, Ojienda filed a case at the High Court, which ordered the taxman to issue him with the document.
The court also asked LSK to accept his papers without the certificate.
Aggrieved by the decision, KRA filed an appeal and a ruling stopping the High Court decision was delivered on February 6. Ojienda has since appealed this decision, with the matter coming up for hearing on Tuesday.