Mas­sive re­spon­si­bil­i­ties ahead for the new CJ

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics -

The white smoke is fi­nally out and Kenyans can con­firm that the JSC has fi­nally found the one; the right­eous and learned one amongst them all. The JSC, fol­low­ing a com­pet­i­tive process in­volv­ing a va­cancy an­nounce­ment, short­list­ing of ap­pli­cants and con­duct­ing in­ter­views both of the qual­i­fied and un­qual­i­fied can­di­dates, has of­fi­cially re­leased the name of the nom­i­nee to the po­si­tion of Chief Jus­tice.

David Ke­nani Maraga, 64, pre­vi­ously the Pre­sid­ing Judge of the Court of Ap­peal in Kisumu, is the fa­vorite of them all, the JSC has de­clared. The name of the judge landed on the ears of the mem­bers of the le­gal fra­ter­nity as a shocker be­cause their bet was on some other can­di­dates whom in my opin­ion had im­pressed by their elo­quence and ar­tic­u­la­tion of le­gal is­sues. Jus­tice Maraga was not on many peo­ple’s mind, al­though he suc­cess­fully went through the vet­ting by the JSC board af­ter be­ing short­listed among the 11 can­di­dates and the third to be in­ter­viewed for the po­si­tion.

A staunch Sev­enth Day Ad­ven­tist, dur­ing his in­ter­view Maraga star­tled the na­tion when he in­voked God’s name loudly and went on to swear that he had never taken a bribe in his life. In­deed, he prays; and God truly an­swered his prayers by anoint­ing him as the pos­si­ble Chief Jus­tice. He was ap­pointed to the High Court in Oc­to­ber2003 and to the Court of Ap­peal in 2011. The Univer­sity of Nairobi alum­nus holds an LL.M and also chairs the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee on Elec­tions tasked with over­see­ing elec­tion pe­ti­tion hear­ings that may arise af­ter the 2017 polls.

The next stage will be to for­ward the name of the lit­tle-known Maraga to the Na­tional Assem­bly for ap­proval be­fore the Pres­i­dent for­mally ap­points him the next Chief jus­tice in ac­cor­dance to the Con­sti­tu­tion of Kenya, which po­si­tion he will hold un­til his ten­ure ends, at­tains the re­tire­ment age of 70 years as pre­scribed in the Con­sti­tu­tion or he is re­moved from of­fice if a Tri­bunal ap­pointed to in­quire into his con­duct finds that he should not re­main in of­fice.

If ap­pointed the next Chief Jus­tice, Jus­tice Maraga to­gether and the next Deputy Chief Jus­tice will have a ter­rific task clean­ing up the Ju­di­ciary by putting up fresh mech­a­nisms to re­store in­tegrity and con­fi­dence in the in­sti­tu­tion as well as as­sur­ing Kenyans headed to the Gen­eral Elec­tion that their rights to free and fair ac­cess to jus­tice are fully guar­an­teed.

The writer is a lawyer

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