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Resign if you can't obey law, ex-CJ tells President

President Uhuru Kenyatta when he was received by former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga on arrival for the official opening of the East African Magistrates and Judges Association Annual General Conference at a Nairobi hotel.[Standard]

Former Chief-Justice Willy Mutunga yesterday launched a scathing attack on President Uhuru Kenyatta over his failure to appoint six judicial officers, asking him to quit if the burden placed on him to uphold the Constitution was too heavy.

On the same day, former Law Society of Kenya (LSK) chief executive Apollo Mboya wrote to Chief Justice Martha Koome, accusing her of taking part in an illegal swearing-in of 34 judges, and asking confirmation if the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) approved of the event.

In a four-page barrage, Dr Mutunga told the President to instead resist "those who have built a thriving pettiness cottage industry, completely consumed by the pursuit of personal vendetta, at the expense of the national good and Kenya's fledgling constitutional democracy".

He claimed that for two years, the President has subjected the nominees to untold personal suffering.

Last week, President Kenyatta finally gazetted 34 out of the 40 judges presented to him by JSC for appointment to the High Court and Court of Appeal.

"That the president has finally gazetted all the advocates recommended two years ago speaks to an exercise of power that is egregious, reckless and insensitive. It is most disturbing the President's decision to omit the names of six judges and judicial officers from the list," said Mutunga.

On his remarks that he too swore an oath to protect the Constitution, and that he would listen to State agencies, Mutunga took the President head-on:

"Nothing in the oaths says, 'I will obey and protect only those aspects of the Constitution that I find convenient and self-fulfilling; so help me God'."

He said the oath was total and unqualified, and its administration is not an exercise in jest, but rather a solemn commitment to conscience and to the country in the performance of public duty held in trust for the Kenyan people.

And in his letter, Mboya underscored the long history of the matter, and the various court pronouncements as well as the pending court cases on the same. He said the CJ sanctioned illegality by participating.

"It amounts to an act of illegality, sacrilege and grand apostasy for your Ladyship as Chief Justice to have participated, overseen and facilitated the swearing-in of partial list of nominees contrary to the Constitution of Kenya, Judicial Service Act and the various Court orders."

He claimed Koome's statement condemning the President on the very day she witnessed the swearing-in at the State House was calculated at pacifying Kenyans, while she surrendered judicial independence to the president. Mboya demanded evidence of JSC involvement and vowed to pursue the matter to the end.

Mutunga's statement, riding on similar hard-hitting statements by former Chief Justice David Maranga, spared Chief Justice Koome.

During the appointments, Uhuru dropped the names 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 left out was former Registrar of the High Court Judith Omange and Chief Magistrate Evans Makori, who had been nominated to the Environment and Land Court.

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