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Koome: I’ll work with Executive but cannot give up independence

By Hudson Gumbihi | June 19th 2021

Chief Justice Martha Koome flanked by Martha Karua (left) and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu at Safari Park on June 18, 2021. [ Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

Chief Justice Martha Koome has reiterated her resolve to protect the independence of the Judiciary.

Koome said she would not be swayed to violate the Constitution, and urged judicial staff to work without fear.

“My first and foremost responsibility is to defend the independence of the Judiciary and the Constitution. Under my watch, nobody will tell a judge or adjudicator how to decide a case; let people come with evidence and we shall deliver justice,” she said.

The Judiciary has increasingly found itself on a collision course with the Executive, with the latest controversy being President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision not to appoint six judicial officers nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Uhuru appointed 34 judges but left out Justices George Odunga, Joel Ngugi, Weldon Korir and Aggrey Muchelule, and Chief Magistrate Evans Makori, and High Court Registrar Judith Omange.

The president said the six did not meet the threshold for appointment as judges to the designated courts and referred their nomination back to JSC.

Yesterday, Koome said as much as she wanted the independence of the Judiciary to be respected, she was also alive to the fact that interdependency with the other two arms of government – the Executive and Parliament - was equally critical.

“So when you see me having a cup of tea with His Excellency the President, our discussions will be about administrative matters; the same case applies to Parliament because we need legislators to approve our budgets,” said Koome.

She spoke at a luncheon held in her honour at the Safari Park Hotel, where leaders described her as an embodiment of courage.

The CJ asked the Parliament and the Executive to ensure it is well-funded. “We need resources to develop infrastructure, we should not be treated as an illegitimate child in government,” said Koome.

She promised to expedite conclusion of cases, saying she was concerned with delays. She said the challenge of delay in conclusion of cases would partly be solved by the establishment of four Small Claims Courts in Nairobi.

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