19 September 2017

Kenya: Maraga Stands By Annulment of Kenyatta Win, Ready to Pay Ultimate Price

Nairobi — Chief Justice David Maraga has said judges are ready to pay the ultimate price to protect the Constitution and the rule of law.

Maraga who addressed a news conference after chairing a meeting of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Tuesday said the Judiciary will not bow to pressure and insistent attacks from the political class intended to intimidate it, pledging complete fidelity to the law.

"On our part, we're prepared to pay the ultimate price to protect the Constitution and the rule of law," he said flanked by JSC members who included Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Justice Mohamed Warsame, as well as commissioners Prof Tom Ojienda, Emily Ominde and Mercy Mwara Deche.

Maraga made the statement even as supporters of the Jubilee Party were heard in the background baying for his blood on account of the nullification of President Uhuru Kenyatta's August 8 win.

He specifically singled out the protests by Jubilee supporters who camped outside the Supreme Court since mid-Tuesday morning saying such acts would not be condoned.

"Since the Supreme Court delivered the judgment on the 2017 Presidential Election Petition on September 1, 2017, these attacks have become even more aggressive, culminating in lengthy uninterrupted demonstrations right outside the Supreme Court Building," the CJ noted.

Maraga who is also president of the Supreme Court said individual politicians making inciting remarks should be held liable should anything happen to judges, magistrates or their families.

He condemned the Inspector General of the National Police Service for failing to protect judicial officers despite the obvious threats they continued to face with the expected onset of hearings of 339 petitions filed in various courts across the country.

"JSC notes with dismay that the IG who is expected to provide security to all Government facilities has repeatedly ignored calls to act, exposing judicial officers, property and litigants to danger," Maraga stated.

The Chief Justice said incidences such as one that occurred at the Kerugoya High Court on Monday where Kirinyaga gubernatorial candidate Martha Karua was barred by demonstrators from accessing the courts for a hearing of a petition she filed against Governor Anne Waiguru were unacceptable and "should never be allowed to happen".

Maraga fiercely defended the autonomy of the Judiciary saying it was equal to the other two Arms of the Government - the Legislator and Executive.

"If leaders are tired of having a strong and independent Judiciary, they should call a referendum and abolish it altogether," he charged.

"Before that happens, the Judiciary will continue to discharge its mandate in accordance with the Constitution and individual oaths of office."

The CJ said the judicature as currently constituted "cannot and shall not guarantee a particular outcome to any individual" urging Kenyans of goodwill to stand in solidarity with the Judiciary and the rule of law.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Kenya Judicial Staff Association also issued a statement decrying what it called negative profiling of its members since the September 1 Supreme Court decision annulling the August 8 presidential elections.

The association through its chairperson Sango Maewa said the calls for the resignation of Maraga were ill-intended.

"Some people have been mobilized to come and forcefully eject some officers out of their offices. The supremacy of the Constitution must be safeguarded," Maewa remarked.

He noted that such threats have caused panic among some judicial officers who he said now live in constant fear for their lives.


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