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CJ Maraga calls on Senior Counsels to break their silence on national issues

By Everlyne Kwamboka | November 26th 2020 at 19:04:35 GMT +0300

Chief Justice David Maraga (in red) takes a photo with 24 lawyers who were conferred to the rank of senior counsels. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

Chief Justice David Maraga has called on Senior Counsels (SC) to break their silence on national issues affecting Kenyans.

Maraga said “we will all be losers” at the end of the day if wrong decisions are made by few people and the legal minds continue staging no-show.

“If you stand together and made a statement, the nation will listen to you,” he said. Maraga spoke at a ceremony where 24 lawyers, whose experience if put together amounts to close to 500 years, were conferred to the rank of SCs.

The CJ, who has less than two weeks to go on leave ahead of his retirement on January 12, 2021, hailed lawyers such as former Gichugu MP Martha Karua for their contribution in building the nation by making their stand known.

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Maraga’s statement comes at a time when the collection of signatures on Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) is ongoing even with the raging debate on some contentious issues on the document.

BBI debate

SCs Chairman Fred Ojiambo said they are going to discuss the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 with a view of addressing issues affecting their profession, including the position of the Judicial Ombudsman who is to serve as ex-officio in the Judicial Service Commission. The Ombudsman is to be nominated by the president and approval done by the Senate.

The BBI Bill has not addressed the issue of judicial fund that was to be established as an independent entity in the current Constitution, as they get only one per cent of the national budget, a figure that translates to Sh19b.

“If there was ever any question as to the role of the senior bar, current events in the legal profession, and the country at large, demonstrate strongly the dire need for leaners, seasoned and sober-minded advice to be brought to bear upon all aspects of our society,” Ojienda said.

He also admitted that there have been calls from the Law Society Council for the senior bar to be more involved in the welfare and development of the body politically.

“My Lord, the Chief Justice, the collective wisdom of the senior bar seated before you are estimated to be close to 500 years. That is an asset not to be disregarded easily. And it is my prayer that this tremendous wealth will be deliberately and assiduously invested in the public weal,” he said.

Speaking at the Supreme Court grounds in Nairobi, Ojiambo said it would not be wrong for them to dismiss the document before reading through and making their suggestions.

The SCs have been making their contributions to issues touching on the nation individually or through the Law Society of Kenya and not as those in the highest rank of the profession in Kenya.

In the current Parliament, the Senate has three SCs—James Orengo, Okongo Omogeni and Amos Wako— while the National Assembly had none.  Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo will now be the first in the current National Assembly.

Maraga said counsels who were conferred to the highest rank in the legal profession in Kenya deserve the position due to the fact that they have treated the courts with respect and honesty.

New Senior Counsels

They include Mr Parkash Nagpal, Fackson Kagwe, Pravin Bowry, Rautta Athiambo, Fredrick Ngatia, Philip Murgor, Albert Mumma, Beuttah Siganga, Charles Gatonye, Kiragu Kimani, Kioko Kilukumi, Wilfred Nderitu and John Chigiti.

Central Bank of Kenya Chairman Mohammed Nyaoga, former Mombasa mayor Taib Ali Taib and the Sports Tribunal Chairman John Ohaga also signed to join the rank.

The number of women also increased in the senior bar following the conferment of Karua, Judy Thongori, Zehrabanu Janmohamed, Patricia Nyaundi and Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Dorcas Oduor.

Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka who was among those gazetted did not attend the ceremony.

LSK President Nelson Havi had opposed the process used by President Uhuru Kenyatta in conferring the 24 lawyers who joined their 26 colleagues already enjoying privileges that come with the rank.

“This cohort of senior counsel has finally signed the roll after a rather regrettable delay than we had hoped. There were a few hiccups along the way, including a rather unfortunate attempt by LSK to scuttle this process,” Ojienda said.

But even as the 24 dressed in black robes and wigs waited for the ceremony to kick-off immediately after a gazette notice on the conferment of rank and dignity of the lawyers was published, the CJ had left his office for lunch at home.

Judiciary Chief Registrar Anne Amadi was forced to call him back to the Supreme Court, a situation that saw the CJ who had deleted the event from his diary make an about-turn at the Bomas inter-change in Nairobi, leaving lunch that had been prepared by his wife to come and grace the event.

Maraga said he had been told by a person he did not name that he had no business in conferring the lawyers to the prestigious rank.

“I was told the CJ has no role to play in this ceremony,” he said.


Chief Justice David Maraga Fred Ojiambo Senior Counsels BBI
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