LSK council moves to put house in order

The Jubilee-Nasa factions within the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) Council have tentatively agreed to bury the hatchet, though the partisanship that has threatened to tear it apart persists.

The council last week held an extra-ordinary meeting to resolve their differences that have spilt over to the public arena with members openly contradicting each other on matters of public interest.

Speaking of the extra-ordinary meeting, LSK president Isaac Okero said the council renewed its commitment to the charter and the Code of Conduct.

“The Council held an extra-ordinary meeting on October 17 to discuss recent events and concluded by reaffirming individually and collectively its commitment to the Council Charter and Code of Conduct,” said Mr Okero.

OPENLY DIFFERING

The charter and code of conduct among other clauses makes the president of the society its spokesperson but he “shall as much as possible consult with LSK Council and branch chairpersons where necessary before issuing a statement or communicating the position of the Society on any matter.”

Council members are also required to uphold the principle of confidentiality in relation to their deliberations.

The council is the governing body of LSK and is currently composed of Mr Okero, vice president Faith Waigwa, Francis Masika, Alex Gatundu, Ms Harriette Chiggai, Ms Grace Okumu, Godfrey Kitiwa, Edwin Sifuna, Dorothy Jemator, David Njoroge, Alan Kosgey, Ms Ann Nyukuri, Ms Jane Masai and Ms Mercy Wambua, who is the chief executive.

The society’s leadership has lately been on the spotlight with council members divided between Jubilee and Nasa camps, with members openly differing on public interest matters in particular presidential petition and attempts by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) to investigate Supreme Court registrar Esther Nyaiyaki.

PRESIDENTIAL PETITION

In addition, the society has maintained a studious silence on the controversial amendments to the election laws which are currently waiting for presidential assent.

The laws have been vehemently opposed by Nasa whose MPs boycotted the sittings to debate and adopt the amendment bill.

After Nasa filed the presidential election petition, a council member Mr Gatundu, swore an affidavit in support of President Uhuru Kenyatta opposing LSK’s application to be admitted as an amicus curiae (friend of the court).  

“I am aware that the composition of the current council of the LSK which made the resolution to apply to be joined to these proceedings as amicus curiae was not unanimous and comprises members who are engaged in active, partisan politics representing the main protagonists in this petition,” he asserted.

Despite the opposition, the judges admitted LSK to the proceedings.

EACC

The second instance involved vice president Faith Waigwa on October 5 penning a letter to EACC chairman Eliud Wabukala contradicting an earlier one by Mr Okero in which the president had faulted EACC’s intended probe on Ms Nyaiyaki.

In his letter of October 3, Mr Okero told EACC that summoning Ms Nyaiyaki would amount to encroachment on independence of the Judiciary.

“The EACC has no authority to intervene and purport to conduct an inquiry or investigation replicating functions that under the Constitution are expressly anchored in the Judiciary and ancillary organs of the Judiciary including the JSC (Judicial Service Commission),” Mr Okero’s letter read in part.

Two days later, on October 5 Ms Waigwa wrote a counter letter to the effect that “Mr Okero’s letter is not common ground among LSK council members who were not consulted before the letter was written, sent to you and shared for dissemination by the media.”

JUBILEE-NASA DIVIDE

The Jubilee-Nasa divide has interfered with the smooth operations of the council with some members taking to the social media to discuss their internal deliberations.

Ms Waigwa is the chairperson of the Jubilee Appeals Tribunal while through his affidavit, Mr Gatundu has aligned himself with Jubilee.

A number of other council members  like Ms Jemator have also at one point been associated with the ruling coalition.

On the other hand, Mr Sifuna is an ardent Nasa supporter who unsuccessfully lost the Nairobi senatorial seat.

ELECTIONS

The divisions at LSK have come at a time the lawyers have started positioning themselves for council positions during the society’s elections expected in February 2018.

A special general meeting of the society is also scheduled for November to pass regulations in line with the new LSK Act.

“There is no doubt whatsoever that the council is dead and cannot offer the voice of reason that LSK used to be,” said lawyer Nelson Havi, who has declared his intention to vie for the position of president of LSK in 2018.

According to Mr Havi, the council has been under the firm grip of the State.

This, he says, came out in the open during the 2016 LSK Annual Conference at Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort, Kwale County when Deputy President William Ruto who had been invited to speak heaped praise on the current council while scolding the former leadership that was led by Mr Eric Mutua.

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