Kenya: Mwilu Links Her Ouster Bid to CJ Maraga's Succession Politics

23 September 2020

A petition presented by two State agencies seeking to remove Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu from office over gross misconduct is aimed at blocking her from succeeding Chief Justice David Maraga in January, the High Court heard Tuesday.

Justice Mwilu told court that the petition by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji and Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) George Kinoti is all about the "Maraga succession politics and battles". She said the energy applied by the DPP and DCI against her is not in the interest of the public but to ensure she does not assume the leadership of the Judiciary.

Upon retirement of Judge Maraga, the deputy will automatically be the acting chief justice, chairperson of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and president of the Supreme Court.

"The interest of the petition is not to take the DCJ through a fair process but to address the succession politics of the chief justice," lawyers Nelson Havi, Julie Soweto and Jackson Awele for judge Mwilu told Justice Weldon Korir.

They were addressing the court during the hearing of an application by the DPP and the DCI to be allowed to join a case filed by the judge, seeking to block the JSC from hearing four petitions lodged against her.

Through State Counsel Nicholas Muteti and Senior Counsel Taib Ali Taib, the DPP and the DCI also sought vacation of a temporary order issued last month suspending the planned JSC proceedings. They accused Justice Mwilu of "mischief and treating the court to theatrics" for failing to list the DPP and DCI as respondents in the case, while she was seeking orders against them.

He said the judge filed the case in bad faith and the move was calculated to delay the expeditious disposal of the petitions pending at the JSC. However, Judge Mwilu's lawyers said the application was incompetent and the two State agencies want to join the case so that they scandalise her and also embarrass the court.

She also took a swipe at the JSC's move to support the application, saying the commission ought to be an impartial party in the case.

Through senior counsel Paul Muite, the commission said the DPP and the DCI should be allowed to join the case because the orders sought by Justice Mwilu will affect them adversely.

The court will rule on the application on October 7.

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