Kenya: Nderi, Lumumba Interviewed for Supreme Court Judge

Nairobi — Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Nduma Nderi and Lawyer Patrick Lumumba were on Tuesday interviewed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) as the search for a Supreme Court judge entered its second day.

Nderi, who was initially interviewed by the commission chaired by Professor Olive Mugenda for the position of Chief Justice but never succeeded, was the first to face the nine-member panel.

The 59-year-old judge was put on the spot on his suitability for the job with the panel questioning his knowledge and comprehension of constitutional matters.

"Supreme Court primarily deals with election petitions and therefore, as a result of your background you need a lot of catching up or reading a lot for you to fit in the court. Any assurances?" Commissioner Judge Mohammed Warsame asked.

Nderi was however, quick to dispel the notion that his extensive Labour court background would put him at a disadvantageous position if and when appointed judge of the apex court asserting that he was equal to the task.

"My experience is not just in labour, the court I serve in is a superior court and besides dealing with labour issues it also handles constitutional matters and the experience I have gotten enough of that over the years in my practice," he said.

Commissioner Macharia Njeru prodded him further on the issue but Nderi was categorical that his candidature should be assessed on the basis of his ability, integrity, hard work and competence.

"I am very prepared to serve in this task because I am and over the years, I have been a good litigant," he said.

Nderi who has an aggregate of 31 years experience in the legal profession said he successfully defended the promulgation of the Constitution of Kenya before the East African Court.

Nderi who for 13 years was based in Swaziland as the Crown Counsel and Judge President of the Industrial Court of Swaziland noted that once appointed judge of the Supreme Court, he will foster teamwork and champion for unanimity of harmonized reasoned rulings.

Lawyer Lumumba on his part said that he was the right candidate for the job, promising "prescriptions" for the challenges facing the Judiciary.

The straight-shooting lawyer noted that he will use his managerial skills and leadership style to deal with the challenges of case backlog and corruption.

"I have prescriptions which if committed to the Judiciary in the next six months there would be no corruption, in the next six months there would be no backlogs in our courts. That is what we do as managers and thank God I am a manager who has not only specialised in strategy but I have also specialized in law and I would not need to consult anyone," he said.

The 56-year-old lawyer who is also a lecturer at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa noted that his vast knowledge in the field of research will contribute to enriched rulings at the Supreme Court.

"Best rulings are those that are done outside the issues being canvassed and I will be that judge who looks outside the box," he said.

Lumumba who is also the Country Director for the International Centre for Environment, Social and Policy Studies told the commission that he will resign from his current post once confirmed and appointed judge of the Supreme Court.

Lumumba who has aggregate of 30 years experience in the legal profession is currently a partner at Nyaberi and Company Advocates.

Justices William Okello, Joseph Kiplagat, and Lawyer Alice Yano were set to face the panel on Wednesday.

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