Muhuri seeks CJ Maraga's direction after 4 judges flee BBI case

A human rights lobby has asked Chief Justice David Maraga to intervene in a case in the High Court over Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that has stalled.

Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) chairman Khelef Khalifa said they are concerned at the recusal by four consecutive judges who have opted out of hearing the case on BBI.

While giving a chronology of events surrounding the case, Khalifa and Muhuri’s Acting Executive Director Rahma Gullan Abbas stated that rights activist Okiya Omtata had filed a petition on January 13, this year to quash BBI and all its activities.

The case avers BBI activities were undertaken illegally and by an illegal entity.

Khalifa explained that as a result of the delay in hearing the case, already one of the restraining orders that was being sought in court - blocking any extension of the mandate and tenure of the BBI task force - has been overtaken by time.

“This was after judges avoided the case until the term of the BBI task force expired last June, five months after filing of the petition to stop its work,” the Muhuri chairman said.

Separate suit

Khalifa said the Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua, through a gazette notice in December 2019, extended the term of the 14-member task force after it presented its report to President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga.

“Muhuri and Katiba Institute joined the case as interested parties,” Khalifa stated.

He observed that Judge John Mativo sitting in Nairobi had certified the case and set its mention before Justice Weldon Korir.

“On January 27, 2020 Justice Korir recused himself after declining our request on empalement of an uneven number of judges to hear the case. Korir said he had declined to similar request in a separate law suit.”

Korir referred the case to Mativo for mentioning. However, on March 11, 2020 Mativo too recused himself because he had in a separate suit seven days earlier issued a judgement that had allowed BBI activities to proceed.

Mativo sent the file to Judge Pauline Nyamweya, who like the rest of the judges before her, disqualified herself. She sent it to Justice James Makau who also recused himself and returned the file to Korir, who once again disqualified himself.

It is upon these series of events that Muhuri is now calling for the intervention of the chief justice to unlock the stalemate.