20 October 2012

Kenya: Lessons of Justice Baraza's Fall From Grace


Nancy Barasa finally resigned as Kenya's Deputy Chief Justice. Barasa has, in the last nine months, fought tooth and nail to keep her prestigious job as the Judicary's second in command.

It all began following allegations that she had pinched security guard Rebecca Kerubo on the nose at the Village Market shopping mall, when Kerubo attempted to search her.

What initially appeared like a storm in a tea cup eventually snowballed into an issue of immense public concern and has culminated in Barasa's ignominious exit from office.

The story of Barasa and Kerubo is replete with lessons for all and sundry. For Barasa, the key lesson is that 'pride goes before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction'.

Had she exercised the slightest modicum of humility and allowed Kerubo to search her, the mess in which she is now steeped could have been averted.

Her infamous sentiments that Kerubo 'should know people' has cost her the second most powerful job in the Kenyan judiciary. For other highly placed Kenyans the lesson is that, you should never think of yourself so highly.

The law will always be above you. Unlike in the previous dispensation when the high and mighty could trample on the rights of the indigent and get away with it, the new constitutional dispensation places extreme value on accountability.

Gone are the days when impunity was the lodestar by which men and women of means navigated their affairs. Meanwhile, the manner in which the judiciary under the stewardship of Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga, handled the Barasa issue, right from the time Kerubo's complaint was raised was exemplary.

The recommendation for the formation of a tribunal, the tribunal's swift investigation and submission of a report of its findings and recommendations is indicative of a determination to expeditiously dispense justice, one's status in the society notwithstanding.

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