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Judges say Ahmednasir can only challenge ban before Supreme Court

 Senior lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi. [John Muchucha, Standard]

Supreme Court judges on Monday asked the High Court to strike out two separate cases challenging the ban on senior lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi and his associates.

In an objection filed before High Court Judge Chacha Mwita, judges of the highest court in the land argued that the court has no powers to entertain the case.

Chief Justice Martha Koome, her deputy Philomena Mwilu and Justices Mohamed Ibrahim, Smokin Wanjala, Njoki Ndung’u, Isaac Lenaola and William Ouko argued that it is a breach of the court’s hierarchy to entertain the cases.

Their lawyers Kamau Karori, Ochieng Oduol and Milly Odari argued that the letter sent to Ahmednasir was an administrative decision, which was formalised to a verdict by the Judges recusal on January 23 this year.

They were responding to the cases filed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and another filed by Ahmednasir’s law firm and his associates.

“The letter is not a decision but merely conveyed the decision of the Judges of the Supreme Court not to give audience to the first interested party which decision was formalised by the recusal order made by the judges of the Supreme Court on January 23, 2024,” the response reads in part.

At the same time, they argued that they enjoy immunity from being personally sued for decisions they make while discharging their judicial duties.

“No proceedings can be brought against them as done in the present petition. The petition is bad in law, frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the process of this honourable court,” they argued.

According to the seven Judges, the court should either terminate the case in its entirety or order their names to be expunged from the pleadings.

They asserted that the only avenue that Ahmednasir and his law firm have is challenging the decision before them.

On the other hand, LSK asked the court to order the three lawyers to choose whether they will represent the Supreme Court or the judges and the Registrar of that court.

LSK lawyer Wilfred Nderitu argued that it was improper for the lawyers to appear for both as Judges and the Supreme Court were listed as respondents and interested parties.

In the meantime, lawyer Issa Mansur told the court that Ahmednasir’s law firm supports LSK's argument that the High Court has powers to scrutinise the ban.

In the case, Ahmednasir Abdullahi LLP alongside its 10 associates argued ban does not enjoy immunity from being challenged before the lower courts as it lacks legality. 

The associates who are before the court are Asli Osman, Peter Muchoki, Irene Jelagat, Esther Amboko, Cohen Amanya, Khadijah Said, Elizabeth Wangui, Bernard Ongeri, Tony Kiprotich and Mohammed Billow. 

“The ban which is for an unspecified period of time is a draconian step against the petitioners and all advocates presently and in future, working for the first petitioner firm from representing any client at the Supreme Court,” argued Mansur.

The lawyer told the court that Supreme Court judges abused their power as they did not give his clients an opportunity to be heard before issuing the ban. 

Mansur argued that the judges failed to disclose which part of the Supreme Court Act, the Fair Administrative Action Act and the Advocates Act they were relying on. 

“In so far as the decision sanctions and or regulates the professional conduct of Mr Ahmednasir Abdullahi SC, no disciplinary proceedings have been instituted against the said senior counsel in respect to the matters complained in the said letter,” he said. 

Further, Manur said that all others who were not a part of the standoff between the lawyer and the judges will suffer without being informed what sins they had committed. 

“While it is evident that the actions taken by the first to seventh respondents is targeted at Mr Ahmednasir Abdullahi, it is pertinently clear that the petitioners stand to suffer in the dispute,” the court heard. 

He asserted that any of the seven judges who is aggrieved by the lawyer’s comments should sue him. 

“In fact, the arbitrary decision of the seven judges constituting the Supreme Court conveyed through the letter dated January 18, 2024 at paragraph four acknowledges that indeed the decision conveyed therein shall have an adverse impact on clients who may have instructed the first petitioner to represent them but does not offer any remedy to mitigate the harshness of the wholly inappropriate action,” said the lawyer.

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