Chief Justice David Maraga on Tuesday put his foot down, declaring that the Judiciary will not be intimidated through what he termed persistent attacks on individual judges.
He said the attacks were becoming more aggressive and bordered on violence in some instances and pointed a finger at Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinett whom he accused of ignoring calls to beef up security for judges and courts, exposing them to danger.
“We note with dismay that the Inspector-General of Police, who is expected to provide security to all government facilities, has repeatedly ignored calls to act, exposing judicial officers, property and litigants to danger,” he said outside the Supreme Court after a day-long meeting with other members of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
In a quick rejoinder however, Mr Boinnet, through spokesman George Kinoti, denied the accusation, saying all judicial officers had police bodyguards.
“The truth of the matter is that all judges have police bodyguards attached to them and their residences.
“We also provide security to all court houses and as the situation demands in some circumstances we enhance security to ensure that court houses and judicial officer are secure,” he said.
The CJ came out to defend the Judiciary, which has come under attack from Jubilee politicians following the September 1 Supreme Court judgment that nullified the August 8 presidential outcome.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, whom the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission had declared the winner of the presidential election, said although he respected the Supreme Court decision, he did not agree with the judgment.
Since the annulment of the election, three petitions have been filed before the JSC, seeking the removal of Justice Maraga, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justice Isaac Lenaola.
The case seeking the removal of Justice Maraga was filed by Nyeri Town MP Ngunjiri Wambugu.
Although President Kenyatta had asked him to withdraw the petition, he is yet to do so.
A Mombasa resident, Mr Derrick Malika Ngumu, also filed two petitions on Monday seeking the removal of justices Mwilu and Lenaola.
On Tuesday, hundreds of Jubilee Party supporters held demonstrations outside the Supreme Court building in Nairobi and in Nakuru, Kikuyu, Nakuru and Nyeri towns.
The protesters carried placards denouncing the Supreme Court judges who ruled in favour of annulling the presidential election and chanted songs to the effect that the Judiciary had stolen their victory.
Justice Maraga said the demonstrations bordered on violence and were “clearly intended to intimidate the Judiciary and individual judges”.
He said the judges will continue to discharge their duties according to the Constitution and not according to the whims and desires of the Executive or Legislature.
The Judiciary and judges will soldier on and are ready to “pay the ultimate price defending the Constitution and the rule of law”, the CJ said, adding that the Judiciary is an arm of government equal to the Executive and the Legislature.
Other members of the commission at the press conference were Deputy CJ Mwilu, Justice Mohamed Warsame, Justice Aggrey Muchelule, Prof Tom Ojienda, Chief Magistrate Emily Ominde, advocate Mercy Deche and JSC secretary Anne Amadi, who is also the Chief Registrar of the Judiciary.
Attorney-General Githu Muigai, Public Service Commission chairperson Margaret Kobia and Mr Kipkorir Bett were absent.
Justice Maraga said individual judges, particularly those of the Supreme Court, have been attacked, threatened and negatively profiled on social media.
“Senior political leaders have also threatened the Judiciary, promising to cut it down to size and teach us a lesson,” he said, adding pointedly that if leaders were tired of having a “strong and independent judiciary”, they should call a referendum and abolish it altogether.
“Before that happens, the Judiciary will continue to discharge its mandate in accordance with the Constitution and individual oaths of office,” he said.
“The Judiciary has not and will never seek to direct the other arms about how to perform their functions.
“In the same vein, we will not allow anybody to dictate to us how to discharge our mandate as given by the people of Kenya under the Constitution. We want to state that the rule of law must be allowed to prevail at all times,” he said.
He called for an immediate end to the “mindless acts of aggression against the Judiciary” and stated that if anything happens to the individual judges, staff or their families, those making inciting statements will be personally held responsible.
According to Justice Maraga, the attacks were denigrating, demeaning and degrading and only “meant to intimidate, threaten and cow the institution and individual judges”, in an unlawful and savage way.
The CJ spoke as the nation waits for the Supreme Court judges to deliver their full judgment on the decision nullifying President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win after the August 8 presidential election Wednesday morning.
In Nakuru, they demanded the immediate resignation of Justice Mwilu and Justice Lenaola.