Three of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nominees to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) were finally sworn in yesterday, seven months after their appointment.
Prof Olive Mugenda, former Cabinet secretary Felix Koskei, Patrick Gichohi were sworn in as commissioners alongside Attorney General Paul Kihara, who replaced former AG Githu Muigai as JSC member by virtue of his office.
Speaking during the swearing-in at Supreme Court building, Chief Justice David Maraga urged the commissioners to work towards the smooth running of the Judiciary.
“Kenyans want to have an independent and accountable Judiciary,” he said and urged JSC to fast-track the implementation of the Judiciary Organisational Review report which he launched last week.
“No judicial reform can be realised without a proper institutional framework,” he said.
The trio’s swearing-in was halted in March after High Court judge John Mativo temporarily suspended the exercise. He was ruling on an application filed by a lobby group—Katiba Institute—which sought to invalidate the nomination, vetting and approval of the three.
The NGO had argued that the nomination lacked openness, diversity or fair competition. On Friday, the Court of Appeal gave Maraga the green light to swear in Mugenda, Koskei and Gichohi to the commission.
Meanwhile, the appointment of Court of Appeal judge Mohamed Warsame as JSC commissioner remains in limbo as JSC and the Law Society of Kenya fight to stop the National Assembly from proceeding with his vetting.
The two agencies argue that the Assembly should not vet Warsame as he was nominated by the Court of Appeal.
new commissioners have been asked to use their political appointment to lobby for Justice Mohammed Warsame to sworn and join the commission.
JSC Mercy Ndeche appealed to the commissioners to use their political connections in having one of Justice Warsame Gazetted.
“ Our appeal to you is to help us in having Justice Warsame gazetted in order for him to join the commission as we believe he play a big a role once in the commission.
Despite the High Court clearing Justice Warsame appointment as a representative of Court Appeal in the commission, President Kenyatta has not gazetted his appointment.
Justice Warsame was re-elected by the Court of Appeal judges.
The appointment of Warsame was challenged after he failed to appear in National assembly for vetting.
However, Justice Chacha mwita disagreed with the national assembly saying the National Assembly had no role in the matter as he was appointed by his colleagues.
At the same time, the new commissioners were also asked to lobby for the judiciary to be allocated more resources as the Maraga said due to the high demand of justice, the judiciary need to recruit more judges.
The chief Justice said that most of the projects were at a standstill as the judiciary lacked money to work on them especially the construction of new courts.