New Chief Justice Martha Koome is working on a reshuffle that will see scores of judges and magistrates moved to new stations. The move is to be done in stages with Court of Appeal and High Court the first in the line. The CJ is keen to break up cartels in the judiciary that have been sabotaging the dispensation of justice.
The CJ’s first assignment is the Court of Appeal, the second highest in the land that has six registries namely Nairobi, Mombasa, Nyeri, Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret. The Appeal Court has been understaffed and with new seven Judges having been sworn in, some who were from the High Court, new postings are expected. Newly sworn in Court of Appeal judges are Omondi Hellen Amollo, Msagha Mbogholi, Ngungi Grace Mumbi, Francis Tuiyot, Nyamweya Pauline, Lessit Jessie and Kibaya Laibuta.
Insiders within the government closely working with friendly Judicial Service Commission revealed, the initial plan is to have seasoned Court of Appeal judges moved to outside stations. They are Mohammed Warsame, Justice Roselyn Nambuye, Hannah Okwengu, Wanjiru Karanja and Milton Makhandia. The new president of the Appeal Court is Daniel Musinga. Eyes are on appeal judges to be named to handle the Building Bridges Initiative case. By last week, talk was, pro-state lawyers were to openly oppose Warsame being named on the bench, for unknown reasons.
The seasoned judges are said to enjoy the backing of powerful lawyers based in Nairobi hence a need to cut links with them. After the Appeal Court, transfers, nine judges will be appointed in Employment, Labour Relations Court and 18 will be sworn in to handle cases in Environment and Land Court. According to judiciary sources, judges and magistrates who have overstayed in their stations, some staying for more than three years, are set to be moved to new stations.
Also targeted in the reshuffle are judges and magistrates whom members of the public have petitioned the JSC to investigate over malpractices. All eyes are now on judges facing petitions at the JSC over misconduct. Also on the radar are the six judges Uhuru Kenyatta declined their nominations to higher offices, citing bad conduct. Our sources say, Koome may decide not to transfer them from current stations as it will be seen, she is wining and dining with the executive that is baying for their blood.
They are justices Aggrey Muchelule, George Odunga, Weldon Korir and Joel Ngugi who were to join the Court of Appeal. 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. In rejecting the list, Uhuru through the head of Civil Service Joseph Kinyua, had said some of the judges had integrity issues. But according to sources, the National Intelligence Service has now given the JSC and state agencies the incriminating evidence against the six judges.
There are reports NIS has incriminating evidence to sustain the move by Uhuru. Koome and JSC are studying it before making their next move. Koome while taking over pledged a long list of promises which include speedy conclusion of cases, an end to the bad blood between the Judiciary and other arms of government, and justice for all Kenyans. She vowed to reduce the rising cases backlog, even as her predecessor, Justice David Maraga, warned her of the tough task ahead. No case will drag in the justice system for longer than three years, the Chief Justice pledged.
She also pledged to work with Law Society of Kenya president Nelson Havi, who had opposed her appointment citing a ruling she made in 2017 on the eve of the repeat presidential election. She further promised to enforce the independence of judges and magistrates. After the shake-up in the Judiciary and after Kenyans forget the politics behind newly appointed judges, the next on line will be the removal of Philemona Mwilu as Deputy CJ with judges who have given her a life line to block her criminal prosecution not spared. Insiders are pushing for a tribunal to investigate her that, if happens, will force her to resign as it happened with Nancy Barasa.