Kenya: Lawyers Protest as Judges Skip Court Date

13 February 2020

The financial crisis at the Judiciary manifested itself Thursday after four out of the five judges who were supposed to hear the case failed to attend court because of lack of money to facilitate their travel to Mombasa.

The judges were to give directions in a petition in which three Mombasa residents are seeking to have operations and management of the port of Mombasa run by the county government. Justice Eric Ogola, who was the only judge present, apologised to the parties for failure to have a full bench.

"Four of the judges who reside out of Mombasa could not attend due to lack of finances. We shall, therefore, not be in a position to give substantial directions in the matter until such a time that the entire bench are able to attend the mention," Justice Ogola said.

The judge said he was unable to make an order requiring the Chief Registrar of Judiciary Anne Amadi to attend court to explain why judges cannot be facilitated to travel to Mombasa.

"I know that the Chief Registrar has done everything possible to enable today's matter proceeded, but her efforts have not been fruitful," Justice Ogola said. He told the parties that such an order can only be made where there is a repeat of the issue.

Lawyer Gikandi Ngibuini had told Justice Ogola that the court's work cannot stop because there is no money to facilitate judges' to travel to Mombasa. Mr Ngibuini urged court to summon Ms Amadi to explain why judges cannot be facilitated to travel to Mombasa to do their work.

"Our clients cannot be told that there were no judges. The petitioners before you are unable to send their children to school," he said. Senior Counsel Pheroze Nowrojee said the issue raised serious questions on the rule of law.

He said the Chief Justice empanelled the bench knowing that there are funds and someone needed to explain why there was no money.

The case has been fixed for mention on April 20.

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