What awaits new LSK leadership as Odhiambo takes oath of office

Faith Odhiambo takes the oath of office at Nakuru Sports Club on March 22, 2024. [Julius Chepkwony, Standard]

A delighted Faith Odhiambo took oath of office on Friday at Nakuru Sports Club ground amid cheers from fellow lawyers.

Ms Odhiambo becomes the 51st Law Society of Kenya President and the second female president after Raychelle Omamo, who served from 2001 to 2003.

Some lawyers witnessed the swearing-in via Zoom while others attended physically. The LSK also held its annual general meeting in Nakuru, the first to be held outside Nairobi.

Ms Odhiambo takes over from Erick Theuri who served for two years between 2022 and 2024. She said she was aware of the task ahead and urged lawyers to reunite. “Elections are over and it’s time we come back together as one Law Society of Kenya,” she said.

She noted that many challenges are coming up, with debate on the housing levy just one of them.

Over-taxation she notes is another issue affecting Kenyans at all levels.

She noted that advocates are fighting for practising space even as doctors take to the streets for better terms and dignity. “The same challenges are being witnessed in the legal and teaching professions. As a nation, many things are happening and arising,” she said.

She urged lawyers to work hard and fight to uphold the rule of law and ensure the courts and the Judiciary are respected. She said the Judiciary must remain independent and not fall to the whims of the Executive.

“We also remind Parliament of its responsibility. They are an independent arm of the government and should not sing to the tune of the Executive. The three arms can work together but have to be independent and serve Kenyans,” she said.

During the AGM, lawyers raised concerns with the Ardhisasa adding that it should be audited. They said there is need to know who is transacting behind the system and that it is moving. 

“These are the concerns that as LSK we must ensure we hold the government into account even as they strive to devolve the system, we ask if is it a system that can be upheld. Also, the question of obedience to court orders was raised,” said Odhiambo.

LSK Vice-President Mwaura Kabata said the promise for a sustained society that will eventually transcend to assisting Kenyans is what they intend to achieve.

Mr Kabata said they are in a difficult time where courts are being put to the test and increased disobedience of court orders and over-taxation.

“That is an area we want to address and assist the government because we have a statutory mandate,” he said.

He noted that the purpose of LSK is not to oppose the government but to assist it. 

Senior counsel Tom Ojienda said the new LSK officials have a lot at hand.

“The challenge here is to balance leadership to ensure you do not fall into the trap of politics while leading LSK. You must pursue what is right in terms of constitutional violation,” Ojienda said.

He said LSK should help the government in legislation besides the oversight role. He said the new council has a responsibility to guide and criticise the government for the benefit of all people.

Prof Ojienda said the new leadership must not appear to be tilted towards one side as it would risk losing objectivity-they must not be seen to be either Azimio or Kenya Kwanza.

“When government is right say it is, support it, when it is wrong say, and show it the route to follow, help with legislation objectively,” he said.

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