President Uhuru Kenyatta has officially appointed Lady Justice Martha Koome as Kenya's next Chief Justice barely two hours after the National Assembly had unanimously approved her nomination.
This is according to the Gazette notice dated Wednesday, May 19. Koome is expected to be sworn in anytime depending on the State House schedule.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by Article 166 (1) (ii) of the Constitution of Kenya, I, Uhuru Kenyatta, President and Commander in Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces appoint Martha Karambu Koome to be the Chief Justice of Kenya," the notice read.
The speed of appointment is likely to raise questions from the legal community which has criticised the head of state over delays in the appointment of 41 judges who were nominated by the Judicial Service Commission.
The National Assembly on Wednesday, May 19 unanimously approved the nomination of Lady Justice Martha Koome as Kenya's 15th Chief Justice. The approval will now be sent to President Uhuru Kenyatta for formal appointment.
"This House approves the nomination of Lady Justice Martha Karambu Koome for appointment of Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya," the Justice and Legal Affairs committee stated. The MPs went ahead to discuss the motion before giving it a stamp of approval.
Koome underwent vetting by the National Assembly on Thursday, May 13, after President Uhuru Kenyatta had forwarded her name for approval.Court of Appeal judge Martha Koome
The MPs urged the Lady Justice to protect the independence of the Judiciary and to safeguard the judges' interests.
"We are going to have a Chief Justice who understands how to steer this country forward," Nairobi Women Representative Esther Passaris stated.
Further, her statement was echoed by Garissa MP Aden Duale who noted that Koome's primary mandate is to uphold the constitution of Kenya
"She must be at all times fidelity to the law and to the people of Kenya and that is what should guide her, it is not the executive, it is not this House or indeed any other public body," Duale acknowledged.
The legislators went ahead to discuss other matters pending today which include exemption from income tax for Japanese companies, consultants, and employees, public finance management (National Drought Emergency Fund) Regulations 2021, and exemption from Income tax for airlines whereby the government has at least 45% shares.
Known for her tough stance and clear judgement during the vetting process, Koome was nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) after an intense interview process conducted by the JSC panel led by commissioner Olive Mugenda.
Koome has amassed over 33 years of experience in the legal profession as she has served as a judge of the High Court as well as a Court of Appeal Judge.
Further, she is fond of surrounding herself with an accomplished group of women who are key figures within the legal and political space.
Among them include NARC party leader Martha Karua, divorce lawyer Judy Thongori, Kenya's first Deputy Chief Justice Nancy Baraza.Lady Justice Martha Koome while she delivered judgments and rulings of the Court of Appeal via Skype on April 24, 2020.
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