Kenya: It's William Ouko for Supreme Court, JSC Says

Nairobi — The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has nominated Justice William Ouko who heads the Court of Appeal for appointment as Judge of the Supreme Court.

The commission chaired by Professor Olive Mugenda nominated Ouko for the position which was left vacant following the retirement of Judge Jackton Ojwang in 2020 on attaining the mandatory age of 70.

"The process has been engaging and rewarding to all the commissioners who had the opportunity to interact with some of the best legal minds in Kenya in a process that has revealed the rich legal resource that this country possesses," Mugenda said, in announcing Justice Ouko's nomination.

"The name of Justice Ouko has been transmitted to President Uhuru Kenyatta," she said marking the end ofthe interviews that started on Monday.

Last week, the commission announced the nomination of Justice Martha Koome whose name it also forwarded to President Kenyatta for appointment as Kenya's next Chief Justice.

Both now await vetting by the National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

Justices Said Chitembwe, David Marete, Nduma Nderi, Joseph Sergon and lawyers Alice Yano and Patrick Lumumba were interviewed for the position of the Supreme Court.

Mugenda noted that the interview process was above board and that the commission was satisfied with Ouko's candidature who was also interviewed for the position of Chief Justice but was unsuccessful.

"JSC has run an open, transparent and competitive recruitment process that has witnessed the participation of the public and key stakeholders," she said, "It is our hope that the remaining steps of the selection process for both the Chief Justice and the Judge of the Supreme Court will be concluded soon enough so that they can bring on board the much-needed manpower in the Supreme Court and in the leadership of the Judiciary," she said.

During his interview on Tuesday, Ouko noted that serving in the Court of Appeal for now nine years notwithstanding the similarities between the court and that of the Supreme Court gives him an added advantage to be part of the Apex Court bench.

"I believe in consultations before decisions are made. I have worked in these courts with people who are senior to me and it is normally my approach to contribute whatever knowledge I have on how to improve the administrative approach of the court," he said.

Ouko who has an aggregate of 33 years' experience in the legal profession said his devotion to serving Kenyans is his driving force and assured that he is not shy to be a freshman at the Supreme Court.

"My capacity is well known to all those who have worked with me. I work long hours and I generally enjoy my judicial work. Apart from my family there is nothing else as important as my work and so I devoted my time to work," he said.

If his nomination sails through in Parliament and he gets to be formally appointed, Ouko will complete the Apex Court bench joining other members including Acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Justices Smokin Wanjala, Isaac Lenaola, Njoki Ndung'u, Mohammed Ibrahim and Chief Justice nominee Martha Koome.

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