Ahmednasir Abdullahi Supreme Court ban: What lawyers think

Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

‘Learned friends’ and Kenyans alike continue to react to the announcement by the Judiciary yesterday to bar Senior Counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi from appearing before the Supreme Court.

The Judiciary decided what it termed as years of “consistent distasteful remarks” he made against the institution and its judges on various social media platforms.

The prominent lawyer, popularly known as Grand Mullah was barred together with employees of his law firm, from filing cases before the highest court.

“It is the decision of this Court, that henceforth and from the date of this communication, you shall have no audience before the Court, either by yourself, through an employee of your law firm, or any other person holding brief for you, or acting under your instructions,” read the letter.

In response, lawyer Ahmednasir criticised the Supreme Court for such decisions terming it a “corrupt court.” He noted that the decision to be denied audience in court was the second in his three decades as a lawyer.

“The first time was in 2000 when I was ejected from the court and told not to come back because I presented a paper at the Law Society of Kenya annual conference calling for the reconstitution of the High Court and the Court of Appeal afresh. No other lawyer in the history of Kenya was denied an audience for calling out corrupt and incompetent judges," he wrote. 

The lawyer has now vowed to challenge that decision at the East African Court of Justice, saying he does not take it lightly. 

“I will not waste time going to CJ Koome’s court,” he said on Friday, January 19. 

The decision to bar him from the Supreme Court has since elicited mixed reactions amongst fellow lawyers and the public.

LSK President Eric Theuri. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

LSK President Eric Theuri

Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Eric Theuri, in a post on X, condemned the decision, terming it a violation of constitutional rights.

“Every person has a constitutional right to counsel of his choice. The Court cannot violate a consumer's rights by dictating who should appear before them. The Court has no legal right to bar an Advocate duly authorised by the Law Society to practise law,” said Theuri.

Theuri averred that the decision paints the court as a purveyor of injustice at a time when the Executive and Judiciary row is escalating.

The LSK President promised to seek redress from the Supreme Court over the matter.

“The Law Society will not allow its statutory mandate to be encroached upon by the Court and will seek an immediate retraction & apology from the Supreme Court,” he added.

Former Law Society of Kenya (LSK) President Nelson Havi. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Nelson Havi

Former LSK President Nelson Havi held shared a similar opinion regarding the matter, terming it unconstitutional.

“The decision to bar Ahmednasir Abdullahi SC and his firm from appearing before the Supreme Court is unlawful and unconstitutional. It will be quashed by the High Court, further embarrass the ‘besieged’ Chief Justice, and dent the reputation of all 7 Judges of that Court,” he said.

Makau Mutua

Professor Makau Mutua on the other hand held that the Supreme Court was wrong.

He said: It’s patently unconstitutional for the Supreme Court of Kenya to ban Senior Counsel Ahmednasir or his associates from appearing before it.  Free speech is the cornerstone of democracy.  You don’t win an argument by gagging your opponent.  That’s fascism.  (sic),”

But lawyer Mark Oloo, appearing on KTN News on Friday morning claimed that the move was both constitutionally and politically motivated.

Oloo said that as a law professional, one has to adhere to certain etiquette and code of conduct. He opined that Ahmednasir could have followed the right legal procedures instead of “tainting the image of the judiciary” through his social media handles.