Heartbreak for six judges as Uhuru rejects their appointment

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the Nation during the 58th Madraka Day celebrations at Jomo Kenyatta International Stadium Kiusmu on June 1, 2021. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has turned down the nomination of six judges to the Court of Appeal and the Environment and Lands Court.

In a special issue of the Kenya Gazette published yesterday, the President appointed 34 of the 40 candidates nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to the Court of Appeal, Environment and Lands Court, and the Employment and Labour Relations Court.

Turned down

A statement from State House stated that the President turned down the nominations of High Court Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga, Aggrey Muchelule and Weldon Korir to the Appellate court “for failing to meet the required threshold”.

Also not making it to the list of appointees were Registrar of the High Court Judith Omange and Chief Magistrate Evans Makori, who had been nominated to the Environment and Lands Court.

A brief detailing the bios of the candidates, which was attached to the gazette notice, simply stated that nominees left out of the appointments had not met the threshold and would be referred back to JSC.

Yesterday’s appointments come just about two weeks after a five-judge bench declared the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to amend the Constitution illegal and unconstitutional. Those in the team were High Court judges Ngugi, Odunga, Jairus Ngaah, Teresia Matheka and Chacha Mwita.

Appointment of the 34 also comes two weeks after the swearing into office of Chief Justice Martha Koome, who had set diplomatic negotiations with the Executive as among her priorities to ensure the judges are appointed.

Those the President appointed to the Appellate court are High Court judges Francis Tuiyot, Hellen Omondi, Pauline Nyamweya, Msagha Mbogholi, Jessie Lesiit, Mumbi Ngugi and lawyer Kibaya Imaana Laibuta.

Those appointed to the Employment Court are Christine Noontatua, Jacob Kariuki, Jemima Wanza, Anne Nguibini, Bernard Manani, Stella Chemtai, Kebira Ocharo, Agnes Kitiku and David Nderitu.

Those appointed to the Lands Court, are Joseph Mboya, Lucas Leperes, Michael Ngolo, Edda Dena, Lillian Gathoni, Joseph Mugo, Edward Wabwoto, Anne Yatich, Maxwel Gicheru, Jacqueline Mogeni, and Fred Nyagaka.

Others are Christopher Nzili, David Mwangi, Lynnette Achieng’, Emmanuel Mutwana, Annet Nyukuri, Theresa Wairimu and Esther Asati. Lawyer Harrison Ogweno, who had also been nominated to the court, died last year.

For the 34 appointed judges, it has been a long wait of more than two years since their nomination, which led to a bitter fallout between the President and former Chief Justice David Maraga.

In one of his public spats against the Executive, Justice Maraga declared that the President was out of order for disobeying two court orders to appoint the judges, as the dispute between the Judiciary and the Executive reached boiling point.

The President however maintained that he would not be coerced to appoint any judge.

During celebrations to mark the 58th Madaraka Day on Tuesday, Uhuru took his war with the Judiciary a notch higher, accusing some judges of derailing his work and going against the will of the people.

“From nullification of a presidential election in 2017 to an attempt to stop the will of the people as expressed through Building Bridges Initiative, the Judiciary has tested our constitutional limits,” said the president.