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Support the Judiciary, CJ Koome tells Uhuru

NATIONAL
By Fred Kagonye | May 21st 2021

Martha Koome (centre) was sworn in as Kenya's 15th Chief Justice on Friday, May 21, 2021. [Standard]

Chief Justice Martha Koome has urged the Executive to unconditionally support the Judiciary.

In her maiden speech – after she was sworn into office on Friday –, the CJ said the Executive has a duty to ensure budgetary allocations to the Judiciary are adequate to facilitate justice dispensation.

She also urged the Executive to accord the Judiciary the necessary support by obeying court orders.

“I have no difficulties to state that the independence of the Judiciary cannot be interfered with,” she said. “Any party trying to direct how the Judiciary should decide a matter would be interfering with the Constitution,” she added.

She said, during her reign, she will work to ensure that all arms of government work efficiently.

“We intend to create an enabling environment where everyone is treated with dignity. As a result, we will attain sustainable development,” she said.

In her call to the Judiciary, she said staff should champion for justice and accountability.

“It [Justice] belongs to all of us, and cuts across all our lives. We need to play our Constitutional mandate to ensure that we deliver it for the people,” she said.

She urged Kenyans to embrace other avenues of resolving their conflicts other than litigation.

Koome further said people can pick lessons from her and Justice William Ouko on how to compete for positions with grace and dignity.

“He was my classmate, he was my boss as President of Court of Appeal, we competed for the same [CJ] position. We kept on encouraging and cheering each other. In our minds, the contest was a friendly match. This is a lesson politicians need to learn from us,” she said.

In her speech to welcome the new CJ, Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Philomena Mwilu said if someone had told her before that she would be ushering in Kenya’s first female Chief Justice, she probably would have debated. “We thank God that this has happened,” she said.

The interim chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Prof. Olive Mugenda, in her speech, said: “There is no doubt in my mind that we made the right choice for the Judiciary and to the people of Kenya.”

She added that they will work with the CJ for the successful implementation of her strategic plan for the Judiciary.

In his speech, new Supreme Court entrant, Justice William Ouko, said it was no mean feat for Justice Koome to become Kenya’s first female Chief Justice.

He lauded the leadership of DCJ Mwilu, saying that she played a critical role to ensure there was no leadership gap since the exit of Justice David Maraga on January 12, 2021.

“We have come a long way. When we sat in the same class in the early 1980s, we never knew that you would become a CJ and I, a Supreme Court Judge,” he reminisced on the journey that he and Justice Koome have had.

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