CJ Maraga faces protests over ‘graft’

Chief Justice David Maraga (holding documents) with Judicial Training Institute Director Justice Kathurima M'Inoti. [Gideon Maundu, Standard]
Protesters yesterday held demonstrations against the Judiciary “for abetting corruption and protecting drug lords”.

The demonstrators attempted to storm the ongoing judges’ annual colloquium at a Mombasa hotel attended by Chief Justice David Maraga.

Police had to repulse the placard-waving demonstrators, mainly women, from entering the hotel.

The demonstrators timed their march to coincide with the judges’ tea break.

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They waved placards with messages alleging bribery among some judicial officials. The protesters also chanted slogans against certain judges and the Judicial Services Commission.

Weakest link

The close to 100 protesters, who arrived on motorcycles, accused the Judiciary of being the weakest link in the fight against drug trafficking at the Coast.

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“You only take bribes and free drug traffickers!” shouted one protestor to the amazement of the judges.

An unidentified protester cited the recent jailing of the Akasha brothers in the US to show her frustration against the Kenyan criminal justice system.

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She said some judges in Kenya had flirted with the Akashas for years, blocking the wheels of justice from grinding, while it had taken just a year for the US to throw them in jail.

“Remove all the corrupt judges!” one banner read amid chants for the President to intervene and clean the judiciary.

The demonstrators said some judges’ complicity in corruption was responsible for the drug menace at the Coast.

Police from Bamburi Police Station drove the protesters away, after tolerating them for sometime.

On Wednesday night, some journalists got wind of the protest, which raised queries on the real faces behind the picketing.

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The demonstration prompted Maraga to convene an impromptu meeting with top judicial officers including Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Court of Appeal President Justice William Ouko, Chief Registrar Anne Amadi and High Court President Justice Lydia Achode.

“We did not exactly know what the demonstrators wanted. In fact, when I heard that there were demonstrators at the gate, I decided to walk there and address them, but they had already been chased by police,” said Maraga.

He called on police and other people with evidence on graft among judicial officers to take it to his office.

Maraga said it could be true that some judicial officers were protecting drug barons, but so far no one had come up with evidence linking any judge to drug cartels.

“I do not deny that some judicial officers could be protecting drug barons, but I cannot do anything because there is no evidence implicating them,” said Maraga.

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The Supreme Court President asked police involved in investigations targeting drug dealers to also dig for evidence against judges who protect the barons.

Drug trade

Maraga said judges facing corruption allegations will soon defend themselves before the Judicial Service Commission.

He urged people at the Coast who feel that  drug trade has become uncontrollable to write a memorandum to him so that he can see how best to tackle the issue.

Maraga said drug trade had become a stumbling bolder on socio-economic development in the country, and it is time it was fought.

The CJ said presently he was waiting for the police to bring him evidence against judicial officers believed to have helped the Akasha family evade the law so that he could act.

He said the Akasha case started a long time ago and the protesters had a point when they claimed that someone in the courts was protecting them.

When the protest ended, the women left on motorcycles towards Mtwapa.

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