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Law Society of Kenya (LSK) seeks to collect signatures to send CJ Willy Mutunga home

By Daniel Psirmoi | July 22nd 2015

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Mombasa branch has resolved to collect signatures to support their petition to remove Chief Justice Willy Mutunga from office.

The lawyers yesterday accused Dr Mutunga of high handedness towards their calls to address marginalisation of Coast region in judicial appointment. They said they would start collecting signatures next week on Monday, after which they will present a petition to the Parliamentary Committee on the Administration of Justice.

Branch Chairman Erick Nyongesa accused the CJ of frustrating the dispensation of justice to the coastal residents and failure to address their concerns despite sending him several petitions.

“The petition shall seek the removal of the CJ and the dissolution of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC). It shall be signed by both the lawyers and the public,” he said at Mombasa Law Courts.

LSK Mombasa branch Chairman Erick Nyongesa (second left) leads other lawyers from Mombasa Law Courts to address journalists. They accused CJ Willy Mutunga of frustrating the dispensation of justice to the coastal residents and failure to address their concerns despite sending him several petitions. (PHOTO: GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD)

Operations at the courts were temporarily disrupted after the lawyers broke into shouts “Mutunga must go!”. The LSK Mombasa branch has sustained claims that the CJ has been marginalising the Coast region by not posting enough judges and magistrates while retaining a huge number in Nairobi. The lawyers said the JSC should take new magistrates and judges to the region in a fortnight.

Nyongesa complained of a general shortage of judges and magistrates for most stations in Mombasa. He said key areas like Environment and Lands division lack adequate judicial officials despite the many cases in the region, adding that most judges and magistrates transferred from the region had not bee replaced.

Last month, JSC announced it had posted nine new magistrates and a deputy registrar to Coast following a public outcry over shortage of the officers. It also defended recent transfers of judges, magistrates and paralegal staff from Coast, saying many had stayed in these stations for up to 30 years and formed cartels.

 Gross impunity

“The situation had led to the emergence of cartels and malpractices that ran counter to the principles of public service,” said Chief Registrar of the Judiciary Anne Amadi in a statement.

The lawyers also criticised the recent move by the CJ to create 14 new High Court stations in different parts of the country and noted that the initiative will in no way lead to Judiciary reforms.

Nyongesa said the creation of the new stations did not address the key needs of consumers of justice and termed it as “populist action reminiscent of past regime when new districts were created with regard to infrastructural capacity and man power.”

“Mutunga as the head of the Judiciary and the chairman of JSC has chosen to demonstrate gross impunity and autocracy in leadership by not only failing to address our concerns but also making the situation in our courts worse,” said Nyongesa.

Lawyers in the region have since January 2013 been agitating for an increase of judicial officers at the law courts in the region.

Currently, there are only two judges serving the Environment and Lands, one in Mombasa and the other in Malindi. Nyongesa has in previous press conferences called for the posting of one judge to Mombasa and another one in Voi.

“The six Coastal counties in spite of having the worst land disputes that have several times precipitated in calls for national secession is served by two judges in Environment and Land Courts serving at Mombasa and Malindi (Kilifi),” said Nyongesa in June.

He pointed out that the programme dubbed ‘Access to justice in marginalised areas initiative’ did not address the geographical distances between the High Courts distances.

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