Stop the insults, Judiciary tells President Kenyatta

Judges and magistrates on Saturday asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to stop his attacks on the Judiciary following the decision of the Supreme Court to annul his re-election last week.

The secretary general of the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association, Mr Bryan Khaemba, termed the attacks by politicians and State officers as personal profiling of judicial officers and an assault to the independence of the Judiciary.

“The President of this country referred to the president of the Supreme Court and other judges as wakora (crooks). He went on to make veiled threats against the same judges on their decision yesterday (Friday). The same threats against the Judiciary have been repeated at State House today (Saturday),” Mr Khaemba said, adding; “the President must have respect for the Judiciary.”

At the same time, the Kenya Union of Judiciary Workers echoed KMJA’s sentiments, saying the court’s decision should be respected at all times.

“The determination of the petition has reinforced constitutionalism and the rule of law. It has reinstated the faith that Kenyans should have when approaching courts of law in their pursuit of justice,” the union’s secretary general, Mr Eric Orina, said even as he called for prosecution of the people who bungled the election. 

CHIEF JUSTICE

On Friday, Chief Justice David Maraga led four of the seven Supreme Court judges, among them his deputy Philomena Mwilu, in delivering a ruling that nullified Mr Kenyatta’s re-election. The others were Justices Smokin Wanjala and Isaac Lenaola. Their colleagues, Justices Njoki Ndung’u and Jackton Ojwang’, however, gave dissenting opinions.

Justice Mohamed Ibrahim was still hospitalised by the time the verdict on the petition filed by President Kenyatta’s main challenger in the race, Mr Raila Odinga, was delivered.

Equally, the Law Society of Kenya has censured Mr Kenyatta and other public officers against attacks on judges.

LSK president Isaack Okero, in a statement on Saturday, said: “Ominously declaring that they (judges) should wait for him (President Kenyatta) after he is successful in the coming fresh elections, are unfortunate and wholly inappropriate remarks from the Head of State, who under the Constitution is a symbol of national unity, enjoys immunity from criminal and civil proceedings and must promote and enhance the unity of the nation”.

HIGH ESTEEM

Mr Kenyatta’s assertions, Mr Okero said, do not in any way lower, in the eyes of fellow Kenyan citizens, the high esteem in which the Chief Justice and the judges of the Supreme Court of Kenya are held.

But Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen accused the LSK boss of doing the opposition’s bidding. “The Law Society of Kenya has become a tyrannical monolith that speaks for a small part of its constituency and does not listen to the rest of it. This is unacceptable,” he said.

His response came after that of the PSCU (Presidential Strategic Communication Unit) which admonished the Judiciary, claiming it was in a “visible and forceful alignment with the opposition”.

Moments after the ruling, President Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and a section of Jubilee affiliated MPs, among them Mr Murkomen, addressed a rally at the city’s famous Burma Market where he made the disparaging remarks.

It was at this venue that Mr Murkomen threatened to have the Supreme Court disbanded.

But Mr Khaemba, speaking outside the Supreme Court on Saturday accompanied by KMJA executive council members, said the Judiciary will not be intimidated.

“The decisions that judges make in court are protected by the constitutional principal of ‘render justice without fear’. We will ignore the threats because they can’t hold water; they are hollow,” he said.

He added: “You can’t just disband the Supreme Court. It is a creation of the people of Kenyan and not one person or a political grouping.”

RESPECT RULING

The EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) has also called on Kenyans to respect the ruling.

“The petitions process is a core part of an election. We have followed the petitions process with our observers in the Supreme Court. We have seen that the court has worked diligently, openly and thoroughly despite short timelines. The mission has noted that lawyers of different teams have appreciated the Supreme Court for providing an enabling environment. The mission will review the detailed judgment once it is available,” they said in a statement.

On Saturday, Mr Kenyatta continued the attacks on the highest court in the land. A visibly angry Head of State, speaking at State House, rubbished the powers of the Supreme Court to annul his election on what he said was a technicality, and promised to “fix” it if he is re-elected. He was on the same warpath in Nakuru hours later.

“Chief Justice Maraga thinks he can overturn the will of the people? We shall show you in 60 days that the will of the people cannot be overturned by one or two individuals. And we will meet there. And I want to say with some anger, just a little, but still say it: Peace, peace, peace,” said President Kenyatta.

DEAL WITH MARAGA

He promised to deal with Justice Maraga, but did not define what form such an action would take.

“When we finish, we will revisit this thing. Every time we do things, the Judiciary puts an injunction. Kwani wewe umechaguliwa na nani? (Just who do you think elected you?) No, no, no. There is a problem, and we must fix it. We must fix it,” he said.

The DP said, “That a decision was made to overturn the will of 15 million Kenyans, so that the will of a few people in court can prevail, we want to tell them: It is not the Supreme Court that is supreme. It is the Kenyan people that are supreme. And we will prove this to them shortly.”

He went on: “We may not be learned but we are not stupid. And we want Justice Maraga to hear us clearly: He has had his day, he has done his game, and ours is coming. And by the way, that is not a threat.”

JUBILEE POLITICIANS

The opposition coalition also condemned Jubilee politicians, saying, “The Supreme Court is not an appendage of the Executive. The presidency must be reminded as much. May we remind President Kenyatta that his presidency in 2013 was upheld by the same court and it is unfortunate that he can now lead the chorus in hurling insults at the court.”

But Mr Kenyatta’s supporters, like Kajiado Governor Joseph ole Lenku, and gubernatorial aspirant in the just-concluded elections Kiarie Badilisha, assured the President that Nyandarua was in safe hands.

“The numbers did not lie. The verdict has actually left President Kenyatta’s strongholds with a stronger resolve to make their political stand known even more loudly. This resolve will actually be more than during the ICC case in 2013,” said Mr Lenku.

 Reports by David Mwere, Patrick Lang’at, Justus Ochieng and Waikwa Maina

They said they are ready for a fresh election.

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